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Cory Engelhardt

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  1. Like
    Cory Engelhardt got a reaction from Karbo for a blog entry, Dream blueprint for the rest of the offseason   
    Ok, I am curious what your individual hopes are for the rest of the offseason, prior to opening day. What other moves or changes are you still hoping for, if anything.
    *I will preface this by saying, hoping for a healthy roster doesn't need to be one of the ideas. That is one that everyone should hope for every player on every team, let alone your home team/favorite team that you cheer for.
     
    Ok, if I am going to pick a few things that I want to have happen prior to opening day, here is how I would play out the rest of the offseason. 
    1) Extend Tyler Mahle. I really do think he is an arm that you build with/build around. I'm hopeful for a 4 or 5 year extension. 
    2) Acquire at least one more reliever who is setup level good. Someone who can slot in at least as a 7th inning (historically) level good. Bringing Fulmer back would work, but I'd be open to any number of the relievers still on the free agent market or via trade. If they want to bring in more than one guy at this level, great!
    3) I still think they could use one more right-handed power bat. I will preface this by adding that I'm not truly in love with Voit or Gurriel on the free agent market, and I don't even truly have a name to go after via trade, but my hope would be it could be someone who could play either 1b/3b or a corner outfield spot occasionally. I'll also say that, I still believe there are too many guys on the 40 man who are left-handed hitters who would fit into this description, but I'd prefer someone with more of a track record. (IF you have a target on who this would work for, I'd love to hear it.) And no, Miguel Sano is not an option for me for this answer.
     
     
  2. Like
    Cory Engelhardt got a reaction from Richie the Rally Goat for a blog entry, 2022 Offseason Blueprint: Trades for Flaherty, Manaea   
    I wanted to create a blueprint that would be interesting. I hope you enjoy it! My goal was to have a flexible team (in terms of roster/lineup) and add a good amount of high end pitching via trade and free agency. Let me know what you think.
    1) Extend Byron Buxton. He is your cornerstone, and I don't see a way we trade him and are better for it, short or long term. 7/110 with incentives. I'll put him at 15 million for 2022
    2) Sign Chris Taylor, 4/60. Opening day ss, but can play anywhere and has turned into a good power threat. Great teammate. IF Royce can show he can be the guy, then Taylor is a HIGH END utility option later in 2022 or some point in 2023.
    3) Trade Luis Arraez to St. Louis for Jack Flaherty. Baseball Trade Values says this is a pretty major overpay on our part (Arraez 33.3 to Flaherty's 14.3) but I thought it would be good to take a chance on Flaherty's upside. He has 2 years team control remaining, and missed time last year with a fairly major oblique injury. IF he is healthy he has ace upside. I'd prefer the Twins to take a shot at someone with a ceiling like him, someone who ended the year in the Cardinals bullpen. Arraez would certainly help the Cardinals offense (anyone's really) and I don't know that I see a future defensive home here in MN. 4 years team control for Arraez looks good for St. Louis too.
    4) Trade Matt Canterino, Matt Wallner and Blayne Enlow to Oakland for Sean Manaea. Manaea has 1 year remaining, and Oakland is looking at a rebuild. They get 3 VERY quality prospects for a pitcher who will be a free agent after the 2022 season. Manaea should slot into the top of our rotation day 1.
    5) Trade Miguel Sano to Miami for a player to be named later. Include 4 million in the deal to get a better prospect. IF the universal DH is here to stay, then I can see someone wanting to take a chance on Miguel. The stretches he has where he is Babe Ruth are exciting, but the stretches where he he is hitting .150 and striking out 60% of the time isn't something that is overall as beneficial to our club. I slide Kirilloff into the full time 1B slot, and have the DH open for primarily Donaldson in 2022, as well as Garver.
    6) Sign Jon Gray, formerly of Colorado, 3/42. This might be low on the AAV, but I love his fastball/slider that he brings, which means that the Twins should too. Another healthy arm to pencil into the rotation day 1.
    7) Sign Corey Knebel, formerly of the Dodgers, to a 2/16 deal. 
     
    Here is the layout from twinspayroll.com, but payroll comes in at JUST shy of 130.
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/12VX-aXpedY7YM2IwDcna724jnMFUMwTE0jBMP1DH_2A/edit?usp=sharing
     
    Couple of thoughts...
    1) I have Jax initially as my long reliever. I think he is a good option for a 2 inning guy, sometimes 3 innings, and he would just focus on his fastball/slider.
    2) I have Miranda making the team, as the starting 3B. Donaldson would play over there a lot too (and probably start opening day) but having Miranda be 3b, 2b, 1b and some left field is a good thing. I listed Larnach as the starter in left field, but if he needs time at AAA to start the year, maybe Rooker/Refsnyder make that combo for a time?
    3) When/if Austin Martin and Royce Lewis and Gilberto Celestino show they are ready, there are moves to be made to make room.
    4) When our pitching prospects are ready, there are moves to be made to get them up too. But, if they are NOT ready, I think the depth is solid. COULD we look at another relief pitcher signing? Sure. I think they'll do lots of minor league signings again (which is smart.) I also think Colome is back, which I am ok with.
  3. Like
    Cory Engelhardt got a reaction from Doctor Gast for a blog entry, 2022 Offseason Blueprint: Trades for Flaherty, Manaea   
    I wanted to create a blueprint that would be interesting. I hope you enjoy it! My goal was to have a flexible team (in terms of roster/lineup) and add a good amount of high end pitching via trade and free agency. Let me know what you think.
    1) Extend Byron Buxton. He is your cornerstone, and I don't see a way we trade him and are better for it, short or long term. 7/110 with incentives. I'll put him at 15 million for 2022
    2) Sign Chris Taylor, 4/60. Opening day ss, but can play anywhere and has turned into a good power threat. Great teammate. IF Royce can show he can be the guy, then Taylor is a HIGH END utility option later in 2022 or some point in 2023.
    3) Trade Luis Arraez to St. Louis for Jack Flaherty. Baseball Trade Values says this is a pretty major overpay on our part (Arraez 33.3 to Flaherty's 14.3) but I thought it would be good to take a chance on Flaherty's upside. He has 2 years team control remaining, and missed time last year with a fairly major oblique injury. IF he is healthy he has ace upside. I'd prefer the Twins to take a shot at someone with a ceiling like him, someone who ended the year in the Cardinals bullpen. Arraez would certainly help the Cardinals offense (anyone's really) and I don't know that I see a future defensive home here in MN. 4 years team control for Arraez looks good for St. Louis too.
    4) Trade Matt Canterino, Matt Wallner and Blayne Enlow to Oakland for Sean Manaea. Manaea has 1 year remaining, and Oakland is looking at a rebuild. They get 3 VERY quality prospects for a pitcher who will be a free agent after the 2022 season. Manaea should slot into the top of our rotation day 1.
    5) Trade Miguel Sano to Miami for a player to be named later. Include 4 million in the deal to get a better prospect. IF the universal DH is here to stay, then I can see someone wanting to take a chance on Miguel. The stretches he has where he is Babe Ruth are exciting, but the stretches where he he is hitting .150 and striking out 60% of the time isn't something that is overall as beneficial to our club. I slide Kirilloff into the full time 1B slot, and have the DH open for primarily Donaldson in 2022, as well as Garver.
    6) Sign Jon Gray, formerly of Colorado, 3/42. This might be low on the AAV, but I love his fastball/slider that he brings, which means that the Twins should too. Another healthy arm to pencil into the rotation day 1.
    7) Sign Corey Knebel, formerly of the Dodgers, to a 2/16 deal. 
     
    Here is the layout from twinspayroll.com, but payroll comes in at JUST shy of 130.
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/12VX-aXpedY7YM2IwDcna724jnMFUMwTE0jBMP1DH_2A/edit?usp=sharing
     
    Couple of thoughts...
    1) I have Jax initially as my long reliever. I think he is a good option for a 2 inning guy, sometimes 3 innings, and he would just focus on his fastball/slider.
    2) I have Miranda making the team, as the starting 3B. Donaldson would play over there a lot too (and probably start opening day) but having Miranda be 3b, 2b, 1b and some left field is a good thing. I listed Larnach as the starter in left field, but if he needs time at AAA to start the year, maybe Rooker/Refsnyder make that combo for a time?
    3) When/if Austin Martin and Royce Lewis and Gilberto Celestino show they are ready, there are moves to be made to make room.
    4) When our pitching prospects are ready, there are moves to be made to get them up too. But, if they are NOT ready, I think the depth is solid. COULD we look at another relief pitcher signing? Sure. I think they'll do lots of minor league signings again (which is smart.) I also think Colome is back, which I am ok with.
  4. Like
    Cory Engelhardt got a reaction from mocley for a blog entry, 2022 Offseason Blueprint: Trades for Flaherty, Manaea   
    I wanted to create a blueprint that would be interesting. I hope you enjoy it! My goal was to have a flexible team (in terms of roster/lineup) and add a good amount of high end pitching via trade and free agency. Let me know what you think.
    1) Extend Byron Buxton. He is your cornerstone, and I don't see a way we trade him and are better for it, short or long term. 7/110 with incentives. I'll put him at 15 million for 2022
    2) Sign Chris Taylor, 4/60. Opening day ss, but can play anywhere and has turned into a good power threat. Great teammate. IF Royce can show he can be the guy, then Taylor is a HIGH END utility option later in 2022 or some point in 2023.
    3) Trade Luis Arraez to St. Louis for Jack Flaherty. Baseball Trade Values says this is a pretty major overpay on our part (Arraez 33.3 to Flaherty's 14.3) but I thought it would be good to take a chance on Flaherty's upside. He has 2 years team control remaining, and missed time last year with a fairly major oblique injury. IF he is healthy he has ace upside. I'd prefer the Twins to take a shot at someone with a ceiling like him, someone who ended the year in the Cardinals bullpen. Arraez would certainly help the Cardinals offense (anyone's really) and I don't know that I see a future defensive home here in MN. 4 years team control for Arraez looks good for St. Louis too.
    4) Trade Matt Canterino, Matt Wallner and Blayne Enlow to Oakland for Sean Manaea. Manaea has 1 year remaining, and Oakland is looking at a rebuild. They get 3 VERY quality prospects for a pitcher who will be a free agent after the 2022 season. Manaea should slot into the top of our rotation day 1.
    5) Trade Miguel Sano to Miami for a player to be named later. Include 4 million in the deal to get a better prospect. IF the universal DH is here to stay, then I can see someone wanting to take a chance on Miguel. The stretches he has where he is Babe Ruth are exciting, but the stretches where he he is hitting .150 and striking out 60% of the time isn't something that is overall as beneficial to our club. I slide Kirilloff into the full time 1B slot, and have the DH open for primarily Donaldson in 2022, as well as Garver.
    6) Sign Jon Gray, formerly of Colorado, 3/42. This might be low on the AAV, but I love his fastball/slider that he brings, which means that the Twins should too. Another healthy arm to pencil into the rotation day 1.
    7) Sign Corey Knebel, formerly of the Dodgers, to a 2/16 deal. 
     
    Here is the layout from twinspayroll.com, but payroll comes in at JUST shy of 130.
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/12VX-aXpedY7YM2IwDcna724jnMFUMwTE0jBMP1DH_2A/edit?usp=sharing
     
    Couple of thoughts...
    1) I have Jax initially as my long reliever. I think he is a good option for a 2 inning guy, sometimes 3 innings, and he would just focus on his fastball/slider.
    2) I have Miranda making the team, as the starting 3B. Donaldson would play over there a lot too (and probably start opening day) but having Miranda be 3b, 2b, 1b and some left field is a good thing. I listed Larnach as the starter in left field, but if he needs time at AAA to start the year, maybe Rooker/Refsnyder make that combo for a time?
    3) When/if Austin Martin and Royce Lewis and Gilberto Celestino show they are ready, there are moves to be made to make room.
    4) When our pitching prospects are ready, there are moves to be made to get them up too. But, if they are NOT ready, I think the depth is solid. COULD we look at another relief pitcher signing? Sure. I think they'll do lots of minor league signings again (which is smart.) I also think Colome is back, which I am ok with.
  5. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to RDLARK for a blog entry, Starting Pitcher Analysis: Lewis Thorpe   
    Okay, time to take a look at Lewis Thorpe. This is, afterall, the reason we all woke up this morning, right? Thankfully for all involved, we can skip the lengthy preamble and just get into the analysis.
    Like Dobnak, whom I covered in this space last week, Thorpe made his MLB debut for the Twins last season (though he started the year off in AAA, whereas Dobnak basically covered every level in the organization in 2019).
     
    Let’s take a look at Thorpe’s results from his MLB stint:
    • 27.2 IP (essentially the same sample as Dobnak)
    • 10.08 K/9 (yes, please)
    • 3.25 BB/9 (that’ll play)
    • 6.18 ERA (yikes)
    • 3.47 FIP (okay, let’s take a look at the BABIP, HR rates, and other batted ball tendencies)
    • 4.14 xFIP (so he had a lower than league average HR/FB rate, but honestly ½ of a run isn’t much in this small of a sample, it’s a difference of 1.5 ER allowed in 27 IP)
     
    I see a number of things I want to look at here, and we will see where this takes us:
    • Swinging Strike Rate: 11.8%
    • Zone Percentage: 44.3%
    • BABIP: .438
    • HR/9: 0.98
    • HR/FB: 10.3%
    • Line Drive Rate: 31.3%
     
    Let’s start with his plate discipline numbers to see whether we think these strikeout and walk rates, which are the stuff aces are made of (a quick a dirty thing to do to identify elite skills is to subtract the BB/9 from the K/9; anything over 6 is great).
     
    Let’s start off with the walks and underlying control skills. Thorpe was in the strike zone with 44.3% of his pitches in his limited MLB innings. Among qualified starters, he would have ranked 17th, just behind Yu Darvish and just ahead of Lance Lynn. As I mentioned last week, there were 61 qualified starters, so the top 20 is the top 1/3rd. It’s also worth mentioning that his BB/9 in nearly 100 AAA innings was 2.34 in 2019 and in AA and AAA in 2018, he compiled 130 innings with a 2.5 BB/9. I think it’s safe to say Thorpe has great control and can likely be relied upon to avoid free passes.
     
    On to strikeouts. Thorpe has consistently delivered a K/9 in the double digits throughout his time in AA, AAA, and MLB in 2017 (10.50), 2018 (10.92 in AA; 10.80 in AAA) and 2019 (11.12 in AAA, 10.08 in MLB). I’m happy to report that his swinging strike rate during his MLB stint backs this up. His 11.8 swinging strike rate would have been 22nd among qualifying starters (again, right around the top 1/3). As I noted with Dobnak, it is not particularly common for the same pitcher to post strong control numbers and miss a lot of bats.
     
    Here is the list of pitchers who had a zone percentage of at least 44.3% and a swinging strike rate of at least 11.8% (if you read the Dobnak post last week, this will look familiar).
    • Gerrit Cole – 16.8%/45.2%
    • Max Scherzer – 16.4%/45.6%
    • Justin Verlander – 16.1%/45.2%
    • Lucas Giolito – 15%/47.2%
    • Yu Darvish – 13.4%/44.5%
    • Charlie Morton – 12.9%/45.1%
    • German Marquez – 12.7%/46.6%
    • Walker Buehler – 12.1%/46.5%
    • Joe Musgrove – 12%/45.5%
     
    Still good company, just as it was for Dobnak last week (and I’m on board with prying Musgrove away from Pittsburgh).
     
    Okay, so he’s in the zone and missing bats. Those skills have consistently translated to strikeouts and walks (for pitchers in general, and for Thorpe since he was promoted to AA in 2017). So if he’s so great why did he post an ERA of more than 6 runs per nine innings?
     
    I know a lot of people won’t like to hear this, but he was unlucky. Pitchers cannot control everything that happens, and particularly in small samples some bad luck can really torch your ratios. For starters, he allowed a .438 BABIP. The highest BABIP among qualified starters was .347 – one hundred points lower! That’s a fluke. Thorpe also only stranded 66% of his baserunners. Only three qualified starters had lower strand rates, and none of then posted a K/9 over 8.5 (Musgrove had the lowest strand rate in the major leagues; more evidence that he'd be a great add).
     
    He was helped a bit by having a relatively low HR/FB, particularly given the fact that he allowed a lot of hard contact (39.8%), and the BABIP was fueled by a 31.3% line drive rate. It’s likely intuitive to anyone who has read this far, but line drives are by far the most likely type of batted ball to result in a base hit. Again, though, so much of all of this is dependent on such a small sample that it’s hard to know if that’s really who he is. If those line drives turned into fly balls he’d likely see his BABIP come down, but he’d also likely allow more home runs. It’s also feasible that a pitcher who misses bats like he does can figure out how to induce weaker contact, especially if he relies more heavily on his slider.
     
    A commenter noted on the Dobnak post that Dobnak had faced some weaker offenses. That’s also true of Thorpe, who faced AL central foes for the majority of his appearances. Something to keep in mind.
     
    Honestly, he’s a lot like Dobnak. The biggest difference between the two (aside from pedigree) is that Dobnak had good fortune with batted balls and Thorpe had bad fortune. All-in-all, I’d say Thorpe gives us plenty of reason to be excited about the possibilities for the back end of the rotation in 2020. The Twins don’t need all of the potential starters on the 40-man to be great, and they appear to have put together a system full of high variance, high upside arms. Not a bad place to be.
  6. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Cody Pirkl for a blog entry, My Case For Chris Archer   
    I've decided to continue exploring the trade market on the outside of the top tier today, just as I recently had with Marco Gonzales. This one in particular may take a leap of faith. I want to make a case for pulling off a trade for Chris Archer.
     
    Chris Archer's fall from relative acedom has been quick and severe. You would never guess that he was a quality starter as recently as last season by many measures. He has become the poster boy of the laughingstock trade the Pirates made in 2018 that included a return of Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and significant prospect capital for the Rays. To say Archer stumbled in 2019, his first full season as a Pirate would be an understatement. He had a career worst ERA supported by his peripherals, likely as a result of a career worst BB/9 (4.14) and HR/9 (1.88) His groundball rate dropped by 8% from 2018 to 2019, a terrible strategy in the season of the juice ball. Archer did not even approach 150 innings for the first time since 2013. Even his durability as a starting pitcher was nowhere to be seen despite him only being 31 years old.
     
    What could cause all of these changes for a pitcher who was rather effective for years before coming to Pittsburgh? Well the pitch mix tells an interesting story. Archer threw his slider less than he has any year since 2014 in favor of the fastball which was down a tick from 2018 to 94.2. This is a pitch that has been absolutely punished recently, producing a positive pitch vaue last in 2014. Archer has always been known for his devastating slider, and even in a 2019 season where he was tagged, it was by far his best pitch despite being thrown about 6% less.
     
    The fix I have is fairly unimaginative for Archer. After watching our coaching staff oversee so many steps forward in pitching last season, I would love to see them get a crack at Archer. Ray Searage was once known as a pitching guru and helped revive the careers of pitchers like Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett, as well as others. However, Searage more recently was let go from his job. We've seen Charlie Morton leave Pittsburgh and become a Cy Young candidate, Tyler Glasnow appears to have been held back in the black and gold as well. I'm not even going to get into Gerrit Cole. Archer may just not be the kind of pitcher that Ray Searage can improve. I may even argue that there's a possibility that he made him worse. 2019 was an all out aberration for Archer, who is due $20 million over the next two seasons where he will be 31 and 32 years old. This is an opportunity to buy about as low as can be. The Pirates wouldn't ask much for Archer in the way of prospects, as they look to shed payroll at the start of a lengthy rebuild.
     
    Chris Archer's collapse parallels with his move to Pittsburgh, where he was overseen by a pitching coach who has commonly been accused of being passed over by analytics and the new age of pitching. His pitch mix changed ever so slightly in a season where we saw several career worsts. Amidst all of this, he still struck out 10.75 batters per 9, showing off his skills that appear to still be there. While he may also not be the big name Twins fans are looking for, he still has considerable upside. At the very least he has proven to be durable in just about every season until he sat out the end of 2019 with shoulder inflammation. If you believe in this coaching staff as much as I do, Chris Archer should be somebody to get excited about. I think the Pirates can survive one more terrible trade.
  7. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, 2020 Minnesota Twins Top 15 Prospects   
    The Winter Meetings in San Diego have come to a close and the Minnesota Twins have all sights set on the 2020 Major League Baseball season. Rocco Baldelli is looking to repeat an extraordinary 2019 performance, and the big-league club looks to remain one of the best in the majors.
     
    As the reigning AL Central Division champions, the Twins now have teams gunning for them, and while the offseason still must incorporate significant talent acquisition, getting contributions from a deep and loaded farm system is something to be expected.
     
    My top 15 prospects were last updated back in June at the midway point of the season; you can find those here. Going back over rankings, here is the full history.
     
    2016 Top 15 Prospects
    2017 Top 15 Prospects
    2018 Top 15 Prospects
    2019 Top 15 Prospects
     
    15. Nick Gordon INF
     
    Gordon followed the same narrative he has employed most of his minor league career. Year two at Triple-A was significantly better than the first season, but the ceiling looks relatively muted at this point. He’s a contact hitter with average defensive ability and good speed. There are some question marks on passion, but talent remains enough for him to be a big league regular.
     
    14. Matt Canterino RHP
     
    After being taken in the 2nd round of the 2019 draft Canterino quickly established himself in pro ball. He skipped over Elizabethton and turned in five nice starts at Low-A. He’s got strikeout stuff, and while the delivery is somewhat quirky, it showed well in his debut. We’ll need to find out what tweaks are necessary as he rises through the system, but this looks like a middle of the rotation arm.
     
    13. Wander Javier SS
     
    No one had more anticipation leading up to 2019 than Javier. After missing all the 2018 season, he finally had a clean bill of health. Now with the year in the rear view, it’s hard not to suggest health was the only positive development. Playing 80 games at Cedar Rapids, Javier posted just a .601 OPS and put up a 116/35 K/BB. He’s got all the talent to be a top 20 prospect in baseball, but he needs a turnaround in 2020 badly.
     
    12. Matt Wallner OF
     
    A big arm but drafted for his bat, Wallner showed out in his first year of pro ball. He posted an .813 OPS at Elizabethton and swatted six homers. His time in Cedar Rapids didn’t include gaudy numbers, but it was brief only getting in 12 games. Owning somewhat of a similar profile to fellow prospect Brent Rooker, Wallner should be able to use his athleticism to continue producing at higher levels.
     
    11. Keoni Cavaco SS
     
    Minnesota grabbed Cavaco with the 13th overall pick and sense him to the GCL. Freshly out of high school, the 18-year-old didn’t get off too much of a hot start. That said, he ascended draft boards due to strong national showings, and his tools all jump off the page. The most important thing that took place for him this year was simply getting engrained into the pro ball schedule.
     
    10. Ryan Jeffers C
     
    If there’s something the Twins did at the highest level last year, it was develop catchers. Jeffers took another step forwards behind the dish, and his bat continues to be an asset. He was promoted to Double-A down the stretch and generated an .856 OPS. Possessing true home run power as well as a growing ability as a defender, he’s asserted himself as the best catching prospect in the system.
     
    9. Blayne Enlow RHP
     
    Things just continue to trend upwards for the Louisiana native. He made it to High-A Fort Myers and posted a 3.38 ERA across 69.1 IP. The hope would be that strikeouts would continue to rise with the walks seeing some decrease. He’s still working on pitching, honing in command, and being able to do more than simply put the ball behind opposing hitters. There’s a ton of talent here and he’s a hard enough worker to harness it all.
     
    8. Lewis Thorpe LHP
     
    Thorpe’s big-league debut came as a contributor to the Twins division title. Although he posted a gaudy 6.18 ERA, it was backed by a 3.47 FIP and was a result of one blow up start against the Indians. He was great in relief and posted a strong 10.1 K/9. He should be still viewed as a starter, but he could be a lefty weapon out of the pen if a change is made. Although he won’t ever be an ace, he looks the part of a certain asset in on the mound.
     
    7. Jhoan Duran RHP
     
    An MLB debut is probably on the horizon for Duran in 2020 if things go well. He was dominant at High-A Fort Myers and outpitched his 4.86 ERA at Double-A Pensacola. A fireballer with strikeout stuff, this is looking like a very nice return for the Twins from the Eduardo Escobar trade. Duran keeps the ball in the yard and does a decent job limiting walks. Another step up and he could be trending towards a frontline starter.
     
    6. Brent Rooker 1B/OF
     
    Somewhat limited by position and age, Rooker continues to rake and make it not matter. He could factor in for the Twins at 1B if the footwork gets in line, but the bat is going to have him up sooner rather than later. He missed the latter half of the season due to injury, but in 65 games at Triple-A Rochester he posted a .933 OPS with 14 dingers. Expect him to start on the farm, but there should be early opportunity for him in the majors.
     
    5. Trevor Larnach OF
     
    After a strong pro debut with an .890 OPS over his first 42 games in 2018, the former Beavers outfielder did nothing to calm his steam last season. He made it to Double-A Pensacola and posted the same .842 OPS he had in 84 games with High-A Fort Myers. A power threat homered in his first major league spring training game, Larnach can play all over the outfield and could push for an opportunity with the Twins before 2020 ends.
     
    4. Jordan Balazovic RHP
     
    Maybe no one in baseball ascended more in 2019 than Balazovic did. After being a fringe top 100 prospect, it’s hard to see him anywhere outside the top 50 heading into the upcoming season. He threw 73 innings for Fort Myers and posted a 2.84 ERA. The strikeouts are there, the command is there, and it all resulted in dominance. We’ll see if he’s tested at the next level, but the Canadian is looking like a staff ace.
     
    3. Brusdar Graterol RHP
     
    A three-inning cameo was what Graterol got to call his MLB debut experience. Velocity is his game and that showed as he routinely pumped triple digits. Strikeouts dipped for him at Double-A Pensacola this year, but he was enough of an asset to be used out of the pen on a division winning club. Expect him to go back to starting and be stretch out to begin 2020, but there’s so much to like here. If a third pitch develops, he could be a dominant starter. If it doesn’t, he’ll be a lockdown relief talent.
     
    2. Alex Kirilloff OF
     
    Missing time to start the year, Kirilloff took a while to get going. It resulted in just a .756 OPS in his first look at the Double-A level, but that shouldn’t cool anything about his trajectory. He’s still a corner outfielder that oozes athleticism and has an advanced approach at the dish. He’s a disciplined hitter with plenty of power, and a quick start in 2020 is going to light a fire under the promotion talk.
     
    1. Royce Lewis SS
     
    Much like Kirilloff, Lewis didn’t get off to a quick start and his bat scuffled all season. He posted just a .661 OPS between Fort Myers and Pensacola, while being questioned as to whether he’d stick at shortstop. Heading to the Arizona Fall League, he took home the MVP trophy and challenged for the batting title after posting a .975 OPS in 22 games. There’s far too much talent to ever write Lewis off regardless of the sample size. This kid still looks like an absolute superstar and getting back in a Blue Wahoos uniform to prove it is likely driving him this winter.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  8. Like
    Cory Engelhardt got a reaction from Greglw3 for a blog entry, 2020 Minnesota Twins Blueprint, version 1.0   
    Here is my first blueprint for the Twins offseason. I'm using baseballtradevalues.com to come up with the trade scenarios.
     
    1) Let CJ Cron walk.
    2) Re-sign Sergio Romo, 1 year 3 million. Re-sign Jason Castro, 1 years 6 million with an option.
    3) Keep Odorizzi, either through QO or work out a 3 year deal.
    4) Trade Eddie Rosario, Jordan Balazovic and Lewis Thorpe to Arizona for starter Zac Gallen. I REALLY like his upside, and he comes with 6 years of team control. His changeup and command would look great long term.
    5) Trade Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, Nick Gordon and Blayne Enlow to Miami for Brian Anderson. 4 years of team control, solid defensive 3rd baseman and can hit. This would move Miguel Sano to 1B. This might be an underpay in trade value, but I really think he would upgrade our infield defense.
    6) Sign Madison Bumgarner, 4 year deal, 88 million. I think he is up for a 2nd wind in his career, like Justin Verlander has had with Houston.
    7) Sign Jake Diekman, 1 year 8 million with an option.
    8) Sign Alex Gordon, 1 year 13 million with an option.
     
    C Mitch Garver 0.60
    1B Miguel Sano 5.50
    2B Luis Arraez 0.60
    SS Jorge Polanco 4.0
    3B Brian Anderson 0.60
    LF Alex Gordon 13.0
    CF Byron Buxton 3.50
    RF Max Kepler 6.3
    DH Nelson Cruz 12
     
    Starting lineup total cost = 46.10 million
     
    Bench
    Jason Castro 6.0
    Marwin Gonzalez 9.0
    Lamonte Wade 0.60
    Ehire Adrianza 3.0
     
    Bench total cost = 18.6
     
    Rotation
    Madison Bumgarner 22.0
    Jose Berrios 4.5
    Jake Odorizzi 17.8, or give or take 15
    Zac Gallen 0.60
    Randy Dobnak (or Devin Smeltzer, until Duran/Graterol/et al are ready) 0.60
     
    Rotation cost = 42.7 to 45.5, depending on Odorizzi signing a 3 year deal or taking the QO
     
    Bullpen
    Taylor Rogers 4.0
    Tyler Duffey 1.3
    Trevor May 2.5
    Jake Diekman 8.0
    Sergio Romo 3.0
    Zack Littell 0.60
    Cody Stashak 0.60
    Graterol/Alcala/Smeltzer/churn of guys between AAA and the majors 0.60
     
    Total bullpen cost = 20.6
     
    Total team cost
     
    Lineup = 46.1
    Bench = 18.6
    Rotation = 45.5 (I'm putting this in as if Odorizzi takes the QO)
    Bullpen = 20.6
    ________________
    Total = 130.8
     
     
    We traded away a lot of prospect capital for the guys coming back. But we also would still, potentially have 4-5 top 100 prospects, all who could make their debuts this year, not including Graterol who made his debut this year. But there would certainly be room for Kirilloff and Lewis to push to make the team at some point in 2020 ongoing.
     
     
    Thoughts?
  9. Like
    Cory Engelhardt got a reaction from howieramone2 for a blog entry, 2020 Minnesota Twins Blueprint, version 1.0   
    Here is my first blueprint for the Twins offseason. I'm using baseballtradevalues.com to come up with the trade scenarios.
     
    1) Let CJ Cron walk.
    2) Re-sign Sergio Romo, 1 year 3 million. Re-sign Jason Castro, 1 years 6 million with an option.
    3) Keep Odorizzi, either through QO or work out a 3 year deal.
    4) Trade Eddie Rosario, Jordan Balazovic and Lewis Thorpe to Arizona for starter Zac Gallen. I REALLY like his upside, and he comes with 6 years of team control. His changeup and command would look great long term.
    5) Trade Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, Nick Gordon and Blayne Enlow to Miami for Brian Anderson. 4 years of team control, solid defensive 3rd baseman and can hit. This would move Miguel Sano to 1B. This might be an underpay in trade value, but I really think he would upgrade our infield defense.
    6) Sign Madison Bumgarner, 4 year deal, 88 million. I think he is up for a 2nd wind in his career, like Justin Verlander has had with Houston.
    7) Sign Jake Diekman, 1 year 8 million with an option.
    8) Sign Alex Gordon, 1 year 13 million with an option.
     
    C Mitch Garver 0.60
    1B Miguel Sano 5.50
    2B Luis Arraez 0.60
    SS Jorge Polanco 4.0
    3B Brian Anderson 0.60
    LF Alex Gordon 13.0
    CF Byron Buxton 3.50
    RF Max Kepler 6.3
    DH Nelson Cruz 12
     
    Starting lineup total cost = 46.10 million
     
    Bench
    Jason Castro 6.0
    Marwin Gonzalez 9.0
    Lamonte Wade 0.60
    Ehire Adrianza 3.0
     
    Bench total cost = 18.6
     
    Rotation
    Madison Bumgarner 22.0
    Jose Berrios 4.5
    Jake Odorizzi 17.8, or give or take 15
    Zac Gallen 0.60
    Randy Dobnak (or Devin Smeltzer, until Duran/Graterol/et al are ready) 0.60
     
    Rotation cost = 42.7 to 45.5, depending on Odorizzi signing a 3 year deal or taking the QO
     
    Bullpen
    Taylor Rogers 4.0
    Tyler Duffey 1.3
    Trevor May 2.5
    Jake Diekman 8.0
    Sergio Romo 3.0
    Zack Littell 0.60
    Cody Stashak 0.60
    Graterol/Alcala/Smeltzer/churn of guys between AAA and the majors 0.60
     
    Total bullpen cost = 20.6
     
    Total team cost
     
    Lineup = 46.1
    Bench = 18.6
    Rotation = 45.5 (I'm putting this in as if Odorizzi takes the QO)
    Bullpen = 20.6
    ________________
    Total = 130.8
     
     
    We traded away a lot of prospect capital for the guys coming back. But we also would still, potentially have 4-5 top 100 prospects, all who could make their debuts this year, not including Graterol who made his debut this year. But there would certainly be room for Kirilloff and Lewis to push to make the team at some point in 2020 ongoing.
     
     
    Thoughts?
  10. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to PSzalapski for a blog entry, From Contender to Champion: my plan for the 2020 Minnesota Twins   
    This time last year, I gave an offseason blueprint that had the Twins winning 100 games in 2019. Commenter tarheeltwinsfan appreciated that, saying "I like your hope-filled optimism." Well, so did the Twins, and they one-upped it by winning 101, beating my overly-optimistic hope by a win.
     
    What won the Twins the division in 2019 won't do so in 2020. They have to be considered the favorite no matter what offseason moves they make, no doubt. But, don't forget that their Pythagorean wins were 97, and several of those wins were on the backs of overperformances in the early season from Martin Perez. If you bump the Twins down to 94 wins, and the Indians take one or two of those lost, suddenly they miss the playoffs. Also take note that the Yankees swept the Twins in dominant fashion with superior pitchers attacking the corners and making the Twins swing and miss, while Randy Dobnak, Odorizzi, and relievers could only nibble and pray. So the Twins must improve aggressively if they want to make a good year into a dynasty rather than a fluke. The good news is that the Twins have a clear path to do so.
     
    The holes
    Almost the entire offense is returning for 2020 with the lone exception of Jonathan Schoop, who becomes a free agent after losing his starting job last July to Luis Arraez. Pitching is a different story, with Magill and Parker already gone and Odorizzi, Gibson, Pineda, and Romo becoming free agents. The Twins thus have a minimum of five holes to fill whether from their minor league rosters, free agency, waiver claims, or trades.
     
    He is who we thought he was
    Martin Perez is owed $7.5 million on a team option, but the Twins declined it and instead owe him a half million dollar buyout. This was an easy decision as Perez couldn't get the job done in the second half of the year and will now look for a team willing to give him a roster spot for just above the minimum salary.
     
    Cutting Cron
    C.J. Cron is in nearly the same situation, as he is due to earn around $7.7 million in arbitration. While Cron provided some power and in June seemed to be a great pickup for the Twins, he trailed off and then ended the year underperforming the rest of the Bomba Squad and was effectively out of the lineup whenever Marwin Gonzalez was free to play first base. The Twins are no doubt confident they can replace him for less than he'd get in arbitration, and so I'd expect him to be non-tendered or even waived before that time comes.
     
    So that leaves the Twins needing to acquire or promote a starting first baseman, four starting pitchers, and at least three relievers. How should they do it?
     
    I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more bombas
    The Twins have a hole at the traditionally easiest position to fill. In the minors, they have no obvious options--it would be best to allow Alex Kiriloff to prove that he can hit AAA pitching for at least two months, and Brent Rooker had a poor year in 2019 that did nothing to prove his readiness for the show in 2020. So the Twins should treat first base in 2020 like they did second base in 2019--find a good hitter to fill in till one of their minor leaguers is ready.
     
    But I don't want the first-base version of Jonathan Schoop--can they please find a real power hitter? Of course I'd love to get Anthony Rendon to play third and shift Sano to play first base, but after Rendon's heroic World Series win, I'm going to presume that this is not the time to buy-high on Rendon. A poor man's version of that strategy would be to get Josh Donaldson, which might be a bit more affordable. As for plug-in first base sluggers, a lesser option would be Jose Abreu, but does he have anything left in the tank? For the Pohlad's dollar, I think the best deal would likely be the simplest one: the Twins should sign Edwin Encarnacion for $24-28 million over two years and have him play first base for one year and DH the next. Aging hitters are less risky than aging pitchers; they should be willing to take the defensive hit at a position where defense very rarely matters and take Encarnacion's bat just like they did from Nelson Cruz.
     
    Time to stop being so Gibby
    So the Twins need to replace four departing starters. Dobnak took over as the Twins' third starter after the suspension of Pineda and the decline and fall of both Perez and Gibson, so I'm going to assume Dobnak at least starts the season in the rotation. If he falters, or perhaps even when the inevitable injuries arrive, the Twins have ample swing men and AAA depth at starters 6-9: Graterol, Alcala, Smeltzer, and Thorpe are all hopeful to become impact major league starters, though perhaps not on opening day 2019.
     
    So really, if the Twins pick up three quality starters, they can relax about depth after that. The trade possibilities are too vast to enumerate, but it is always tough to predict that a team could ever acquire a mid-rotation starter via trade because there isn't a team in the majors who can spare any quality starter they may have under control.
     
    You can't always get what you want
    Gerrit Cole is the leading name on the free agent list, but even moreso than Rendon, he is set to demand a very high salary--perhaps a record-breaking contract for a pitcher, which would mean a minimum 7 years, $180 million--though the rumor is that he could command a number that starts with a 2. This could be worthwhile during the Twins' current window of opportunity, but it might be too big a pill to swallow for 2023-2026.
     
    Stephen Strasburg was owed $25 million per year for 2020-2023, and he outperformed his doubters in 2019. He opt out of that contract, principally to get an even bigger contract, but also to get his money earlier, as his current contract includes $40M deferred as late as 2030. He won't be worth as much as Cole, so is he perhaps a smaller risk? Could he be had for 5 years, $130 million--or will he command even more to a rich team? The simplest answer here is that the Nationals might be willing to up the offer more than others to have him back, so the Twins might not even have the chance.
     
    You just might find, you get what you need
    Madison Bumgarner's velocity has dropped too much to be appealing, and his big-name cachet might be more valuable to a big-market team. I think Bumgarner will be grossly overpaid for his declining skills and so I want the Twins to stay away.
     
    Zack Wheeler is only 29 and is coming off a great year, though his career in 2018 and earlier was closer to league average. The Mets made him a $17.8 million qualifying offer that he will decline, and so the team that signs him will have to give up a draft pick. The Twins should strike early, even if he demands a five-year contract, and pay him up to or even over $100 million for the privilege. The Twins would have the ace they've lacked since Johan Santana and then become a credible threat to the Astros and Yankees in the American League.
     
    Of the top-end pitchers, that leaves Hyun-Jin Ryu. With the Dodgers making rumblings they still want to keep their team salary down, Ryu could hit the market as an excellent pitcher yet only fifth-best of the starters available. If this is the case, the Twins should strike early and sign him for 3 years, $54 million, and have one less thing to worry about. Even if Ryu declines more steeply than hoped, he is still likely to be worth at least half his salary in 2022, and so this is a lesser risk than the other names out there.
     
    Finally, they should do what they can this very week to extend Jake Odorizzi. It might be tough to find the room for a long-term deal, though he just might accept his qualifying offer of $17.8 million for a chance to win it all with the Twins in 2020 and then hit the free agent market for another big payday after that.
     
    The best options if they can't get three of the top six are Dallas Keuchel, Homer Bailey, Cole Hamels, Tanner Roark, Wade Miley, two-thirds of Michael Pineda, the used husk of Kyle Gibson, and several other less-than-desirable pitchers. The Twins might be better off going with their prospects than any of these options, but there may be some wheat among the chaff, and I'd trust the Twins' scouts to try to find a rich man's Anibal Sanchez in there somewhere.
     
    Romo wasn't built in a day, but he can be signed in one
    The Twins need at least three new relief pitchers, but hopefully filling the first slot is easy: Sergio Romo arrived in Minnesota and immediately entertained us with an exciting, positive attitude and an even more exciting slider. A modest raise from last year's $2.5 million contract should be enough to lure him back, but if not, I think they'll have to pick up one of the other free agents.
     
    Wisle down the wind
    The Twins already filled the second slot by claiming Matt Wisler off waivers. Of course, he could be re-waived if the Twins don't like what they see, but I'm going to assume the Twins claimed him to keep him. Reports are that he has a quality slider that the Twins' coaching staff hopes to build around.
     
    Time to harvest the crops on the farm
    And finally, the Twins have enough pitching depth in the minors to fill the last remaining spots--I'd leave it for the Twins to fill with any of the familiar Hildenberger, Reed, Vasquez, Alcala, or Jovani Moran or Johan Quezada. Also, the best relievers are often failed starters, and so Sean Poppen or even Griffen Jax could become bullpen options when push comes to shove. Just like in 2019, the Twins will likely use 2 spots in the bullpen to shuttle viable options back and forth--that's how 2019's Stashak, Thorpe, and Smeltzer seem like great options to keep in the majors for most of the year in 2020, and surely the Twins can keep turning the crank to get maximum value out of their pitching depth.
     
    Of course, the Twins could certainly benefit from signing a free agent reliever besides Romo. I can't imagine they would see it worthwhile to go after Will Smith, Kenley Jansen, Will Harris, Chris Martin, Daniel Hudson, or Brandon Kintzler, but again, they might find one potential diamond in the rough part of this list.
     
    Much ado about nothing
    Some Twins fans will no doubt want to replace Jason Castro (or even re-sign Castro himself) at backup catcher; I can't help but disagree. As long as they believe Astudillo is a satisfactory backstop, they should commit to playing him two-thirds of the time. I would indeed like the Twins to sign some AAA catching depth somehow, as injuries are likely--but a third catcher is not on my list of the top 28 players I want to focus on. Get anyone you can.
     
    The reclamation project
    In 2019 the Twins carried Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza, and Schoop for the whole year. Even with the additional roster spot, three backup infielders might be a bit too much, as the Twins struggled to fill the outfield after injuries to Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, and Jake Cave overlapped a bit more than desired. The Twins should forgo replacing Schoop and instead find a center fielder who could accept a minor league contract and backup Buxton, thus saving Cave to backup the corner spots.
     
    I always like comeback projects--It's too bad that the Twins couldn't have found a way to keep Anibal Sanchez or Lance Lynn in 2019. For this year, perhaps Carlos Gomez would be a nice bench player--this Twins coaching staff and front office surely don't care about his early years here in Minnesota. I also wonder about Austin Jackson--could the Rochester Red Wings be a good team to help him him to get back on the horse?
     
    Repeat the success
    The Twins' recipe for winning 100 games, thus, is listed below. I've supplied Steamer's 2020 projection, which should be the WAR each player is expected to provide assuming he is like other historical players similar to himself. I then give my optimistic but realistic hope for each player, which is either the same as or higher than their projection. You might immediately argue, "What a homer! You predict many players higher than their projection but none lower?!"
     
    I have a reason, and it's not that I'm looking at my favorite team through rose-colored glasses. Instead, it's the fact that the most successful teams usually vastly outperform their projections. In other words, only the luckiest teams win 100 games. If a team plans to be only as good as their projection, they may never project to be among the best--but instead we plan for the best and expect the worst. The 2018 Twins' talent were much better than their near .500 record indicated--but much went wrong and players underperformed. In 2019, we saw the opposite effect; aren't we glad the Twins went for it by acquiring Gonzalez, Cruz, and others, rather than acquiescing to a low projected win total?
     
    So if the Twins are to win 100 games again, they have to make big key additions. I'll agree with what you are thinking--they aren't likely to sign both Ryu and Wheeler, or any two of the top six starters, or overpay for Encarnacion. But this gumption is what I'm asking for. Did we think that the Twins could sign all three of Cruz, Schoop and Gonzalez in 2019? They did so without spending the big bucks; now is the time to bump up that payroll just a bit to go for a championship.
     
    The salaries two top-tier pitchers will demand are well in the affordable range for the Twins, and perhaps no team in baseball can better afford them. The Twins should should do so if they want to win 100 games again--or at least be the favorite to win the division should they fall short at the 93 wins that my blueprint projects.
     
    In 2020, rosters are expected to expand to 26 players, with possible limitations on the number of pitchers allowed; also, MLB is expected to require pitchers to face a minimum of three batters or the end of an inning, which means any "lefty one-out guys" (LOOGYs) will need to do more to earn their keep.
     
    So here's the list of my desired 26-man roster for 2019. The heading "*st" refers to Contract status: "C" for long-term contract, "A" for arbitration-eligible, with the ordinal year of eligibility; "P" for pre-arbitration. The minimum salary for 2020 is expected to be about $565K.
     
    28 slots are listed here, with the expectation that there will be two players on the injured list at any given time. Although more than 28 players will play for Twins in 2020, it is expected that other players will not contribute significantly to alter the bottom line.

    2020 Twins WAR: 2019 2020 proj hope st* 2020 salary (AAV, millions)RF Kepler 4.4 3.5 3.7 C $ 6.3 CF Buxton 2.7 3.2 3.5 A2 $ 2.9SS J. Polanco 4.1 2.8 3.5 C $ 5.2DH Cruz 4.3 2.8 3.0 C $13.03B Sano 2.8 2.9 2.9 A3 $ 5.9C Garver 3.9 1.9 2.5 P3 $ 0.61B Encarnacion 2.5 1.4 2.5 FA $14.02B Arraez 2.1 2.5 2.5 P1 $ 0.6LF Rosario 1.3 2.3 2.3 A2 $ 8.9 CI M. Gonzalez 1.4 1.1 1.3 C $10.5C Astudillo 1.5 1.2 1.2 P1 $ 0.64O Cave/C. Gomez 0.7 0.1 0.7 P2 $ 0.6SS Adrianza 0.6 0.3 0.3 A3 $ 1.9 SP Wheeler 4.7 3.1 4.0 FA $20.0SP Ryu 4.8 3.1 3.2 FA $18.0SP Berrios 4.4 3.0 3.5 A2 $ 5.4SP Odorizzi 4.3 2.5 2.5 FA $17.8SP Dobnak 0.8 1.4 1.4 P1 $ 0.6SP Smeltzer/Graterol 0.5 0.8 0.8 P1 $ 0.6 RP Ta. Rogers 2.1 1.0 1.5 A2 $ 3.9RP Duffey 1.2 0.8 1.1 A1 $ 1.1RP May 0.9 0.6 0.8 A3 $ 2.1RP Stashak 0.5 0.2 0.5 P1 $ 0.6RP Thorpe 0.6 1.7 1.0 P1 $ 0.6RP Romo 0.5 0.2 0.3 FA $ 3.0RP Wisler 0.5 0.1 0.5 A1 $ 1.0RP Littell/Harper 0.6 0.3 0.6 P1 $ 0.6RP Hildenberger/Alcala 0.0 0.0 0.4 P2 $ 0.6 Perez buyout $ 0.5 ===== ====== ====== Totals 44.8 52.0 $146.4 Projected record 93-69 100-62Now that's a roster that should not only win the division, but be a good bet in any postseason series. As a kid, I sang the Twins fight song:
    In 2019, it finally came true and the Twins are ready to keep it going. Let's hear it now for the team that came to play!
  11. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Tom Froemming for a blog entry, 2020 Catching Tandem Discussion   
    Fellow Twins Daily contributor Cooper Carlson and I discussed a decision facing the Twins this offseason that I feel has flown a bit under the radar. Among the topics we covered were whether retaining Jason Castro is a priority, Willians Astudillo as the backup and which free agent catchers caught our interest.
     

  12. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Matt Braun for a blog entry, A Final Plea For The Signing Of Craig Kimbrel   
    This time of the year is always exciting as a baseball fan, the start of spring training brings an undeniable energy that rejuvenates every single fanbase across the country, yes, even Mariners fans. But the last two offseasons now have brought the droning, political, and monotonous free agency cycle bleeding into the beginning of spring training. Whether it be the owners becoming greedy and selfish in their wealth, the front offices becoming wiser in how money is allocated in free agent deals, or Scott Boras wanting to piss off every single team with his negotiating style, players and teams are no longer seeing eye-to-eye and deals have taken longer to manifest.
     
    Even with the shocking announcement of Manny Machado manifest destinying his way out west again, there still sits a bounty of veteran players available on the free agent market including a handful of players who would make every team in baseball better with their presence. One of those players is Craig Kimbrel, a hard-throwing righty who looks like a stunt double who Peter Jackson rejected from his Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Even with this demeanor, Kimbrel has carved out a career as one of the best closers in the game and currently sits as the 14th highest saves getter in MLB history despite being only 30.
     
    Now, before I go any farther, I want to make something very clear. I have been a fan of the moves the Twins have made so far this offseason. I love the Cruz addition along with both Kepler’s and Polanco’s extensions, I like the Parker, Schoop, and Cron additions, and I have even come around on believing in a Martin Perez bounceback. I have especially been a fan of the revamped coaching staff at all levels that have included hiring a slew of progressive, forward-thinking coaches with Rocco Baldelli now at the helm of the major league team. I also love reading stories about Wes Johnson, who would probably whoop Rick Anderson if he heard him talking about “pitching to contact”.
     
    That all being said, it feels disappointing as a fan to see such a large amount of payroll currently sitting there completely unused. Even the most radical fan understood that they were never going to spend like the Dodgers, but there is still a decent gap between where they are now and where they could still be within the usual parameters of their spending habits. And the size of that gap is 6 feet tall and sticks his arm out like a pelican before delivering a pitch.
     
    When talking about Kimbrel’s dominance, his stats truly speak for themselves. His career 14.67 K/9 is so obscene and disgusting that even speaking it out loud could get you arrested for indecent exposure. His career fWAR of 19.0 is 14th all-time among relievers despite the fact that he has half or even a third of the total innings of some of the names ahead of him. His career ERA of 1.91 is 1st among all relievers in MLB history with at least 500 innings thrown. Yes, it is lower than perfect hall of famer, Mariano Rivera. And take a good guess where his career FIP ranks also among relievers with at least 500 innings pitched.
     
    Ah, but there is indeed a reason why Kimbrel has not signed isn’t there? We all know what his career has been so far, but MLB teams care more about where your career is going from here, and as I found out in a previous article, relievers typically have a short shelf life in MLB. Kimbrel struggled in 2018 or at least did so by his standards, much like when the smart kid gets an A-. But this A- came with a higher than normal BB/9 of 4.48, a lower than normal K/9 of 13.68, a 2nd half ERA of 4.57, and one hell of a messy playoff streak that is still in the minds of everyone.
    Despite what the narratives feel like for the redbeard though, his ERA last year was still just 2.74 and his FIP was a “high” 3.13. That FIP would slide in right behind Taylor Rogers and Trevor May for the Twins and be 3rd among their relievers in 2018 or by relievers who threw a full season for the Twins and only the Twins last year, just Taylor Rogers.
     
    Strategically, having the sleeping dragon as the final boss in the Twins pen would have an incredible ripple effect throughout all their relievers. May and Rogers would be unleashed in fireman roles, calming down rallies before they even get a chance to begin. Trevor Hildenberger and Addison Reed can re-find their footing in lower leverage roles earlier in the game and eat up important innings before the meat of the pen can do their work. Blake Parker can go do Blake Parker things when needed and Fernando Romero can terrorize hitters at will with his disgusting 98 MPH two-seamer. In my plan, Andrew Vasquez is also here to serve up sliders at a rate that would make White Castle jealous because Gabriel Moya gives me anxiety when he pitches. Also, replacing Matt Magill with Kimbrel would take their projected fWAR total out of the bullpen from 19th in baseball at 2.1 to tied with the Astros at 4th with an fWAR total of 4.2. And changing Magill with Kimbrel in practice is a lot like replacing a flyswatter with a bazooka.
     
    I’ve gushed over Kimbrel’s ability quite a lot in this article, but something that a lot of Twins fans would also like to know is that his average fastball velocity last year was 97.1 MPH. Yes, he threw 97 on average. Was there even a guy for the Twins last year to throw a single heater that fast? Maybe old man Rodney, but no one else was doing it as consistently as Kimbrel over here. And as a fan of a team that has been notoriously poor in developing hard-throwing pitchers cough cough, Alex Meyer, cough cough, wouldn’t it feel great to finally have a guy spitting fire in the pen?
     
    Earlier this month, Dan Hayes did mention that there was interest on the Twins side to bring Kimbrel aboard and with recent news that the Red Sox would rather play with their World Series trophy than bring him back, the amount of teams that are in play for Kimbrel appears to be limited. While we have heard nothing as far as years and money that the Twins have offered, I can say with a good deal of confidence that there is no contract they could offer that would tank them for the duration of such a deal. I personally would offer Kimbrel a 3 year $54 million deal with a vesting option for a 4th year. That $18 million would bring the Twins to a payroll total around the number it was at last year and would make them more respectable in the AL Central battle between them and the Indians without having to sacrifice flexibility for future contracts if other young guys figure their stuff out.
     
    So, Derek Falvey or whatever Twins front office member that stumbles on this article, I beg of you, sign this man to a contract as soon as you can. Twins fans would be very pleased and you would earn a good deal of credit in their eyes as they are begging for you to spend some money. Not only that, but you guys can get creative and put together an elaborate entrance plan for him as you did with Rodney, complete with flashing lights and hype music that could be heard from St. Cloud.
     
    I’ll leave you with Craig Kimbrel stealing Giancarlo Stanton’s soul with a curveball that would make Bert Blyleven proud.
     
    https://twitter.com/PitchingNinja/status/1048411416896659456
     
    Now, does anyone know what Falvey’s email is? I’m trying to CC him this article but I can’t find him anywhere.
  13. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Sabir Aden for a blog entry, The Good, The Bad, and How To Fix It on Martin Perez   
    If you don’t already know the Minnesota twins inked the former Ranger southpaw, and well seasoned veteran Martin Perez to a short 1 year compact, to what seems to be a lackluster effort to “fortify the rotation.”
     
    Now we can interpret this transaction whatever way we deem to be fit, but the Twins projected rotation lines up as….
     


     
    Middling at best.With the likes of two potentially elite pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel standing pat for a desirable bidder, this has caught the chagrin of Twins rage twitter, and you can’t blame them. Imagine inserting Kimbrel or Keuchel into the pitching staff, and the added perks would benefit all parties involved including the most important; rectifying the vast abyss of Twins rants on the interwebs.
     
    It isn’t any secret that the Twins have loads of room to supplement the roster to make a bid for the division. With the Indians unloading after 3 years of reigning as division champions, and the Royals, Tigers, and White Sox currently having no plans other the than tanking, the crease is there for the Twins to make a run for the Indian’s money and to snap a near decade for a division title deprived fanbase. Even to that tangent, what even is more baffling is that the Twins have an unprecedented allotment of salary (I felt so deeply compelled to say cap room) on the checkbook or whatever ledger the stingy twins utilize to organize their expenses. As Minnesotan Fans, we are so inherently adept to mediocrity and heartbreak, it’s as if misery is in our compatible middle name. But in this instance, there’s only room to spectate and to be optimistic, which is undoubtedly a tough pill to swallow.
     
    The Ugly on Perez
     
    The ugly is so glaringly obvious. The kid pitched to the horrendous tune of a 6.22 ERA last season and owns a below average 4.63 ERA. He’s got a poor career 4.44 FIP, and doesn’t strike people out. Watching some footage of his former* (as in last season he was converted into a reliever because he was so awful) starts, the guy doesn’t have an appealing secondary pitch, his control is rather iffy, and his changeup has fallen off a cliff since its former dominance prior to his injury. Speaking of injury, the guy spent 3 stints on the disabled in only the past year, has operated on for Tommy John, and is as far as away from durable as Minnesota is from Texas.
     
    The Bad
     
    The thing Perez isn’t terrible because he’s bad. As contradictory as it sounds, he isn’t necessarily by any means as pitiful as he appears. Looking at the tape, its as if his performance rides a rollercoaster. During the first inning, the guy is as rocky ever. He gets in many hitters count, can’t find the zone, and gets rocked once he does in 3-0, 2-0, 3-1, or 3-2 counts. But strangely he settles down and is frankly razor sharp with precision in the middle innings. That sinker-changeup combo is to die for on the edge of the plate, and reminds me a lot of….JA Happ. I think toggling with his sinker/four-seamer to changeup ratio, and maybe a change of scenery would do him wonders. Not to mention, GLP in Arlington is no easy place to pitch, because the ball CARRIES out there.
     

     
    The Good, and How to enhance it???
     
    Believe or not, Perez once was pegged inside the Top 100 prospects in the Baseball America’s 2010 edition. Don’t think because of this though, that I expect him to fulfill his top billing as a prospect. The guy has upside which at this point is hard to believe. But as I watched the tape, he isn’t the doormat pitcher as his number would indicate. He’s a solid and competent enough pitcher in the middle innings and is maybe or not a little shaky-nervous at game tilt. Beyond that, he’s got excellent above-average velocity from a left-handed starter. His relative youth and exuberance leaves room for hope of improvement, and he’s 28. He also is a ground ball demon and induces a well above average GB rate, and at worst is a decent innings eater. We’ve seen this regime sign the flyer free agent, as referencing last year’s Anibal Sanchez reclamation project. After looking at Sanchez’s pitch usage, there’s nothing at first glance that collasally has changed. But taking a deeper dive, we can see that Anibal has surged up in his career ranks in Chase%, Pitches out of the Zone%, and overall Strikeouts%.
     


    But his pitch movements, usages, and varying peripherals haven’t drastically changed.
     




    What can be attributed to this surge is pitch sequencing. Sanchez better utilized his changeup in complement because he threw the pitch out of the zone. He Split-Finger had a career-high strikeout rate in volume, and had the most minuscule SLG percentage in terms of volume pitched. He cutback the vertical movement of his 12-6 curve, and upped the ante of his split-finger that fit perfectly to a series of pitches (sinker, cutter, split) that better suited his repertoire, featuring horizontal movement. Which is a primary reason why Anibal had a renaissance season.
     
    I mention this because..
    Anibal was once a former project
    Perez bears a striking resemblance to Sanchez, in their deficiencies.

    All of this surmounts to absolute and utter baloney if Perez resists in reinventing himself as a pitcher. This, however, does include an unorthodox approach, and completing throwing the entire baseball manual out the window, and tinkering with breaking balls. Look at the Rich Hill’s and the Drew Pomeranz of the world, and we’ve even seen Tyler Duffey rely on an off-speed pitch more than his fastball firsthand. Albeit none of this pitchers are All-Star commodities, they all in some capacity became better to some extent by heavily depending on their secondary stuff. There’s no denying Martin Perez is a fully capable and average enough MLB arm, but the real question remains; Will Martin Perez be open to tinker his arsenal, and if not were the Twins better suited to have unleashed a prospect in his place? That remains to be seen.
     
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZOeXGX0sfY"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZOeXGX0sfY[/
     
    My virtual fake money is betting on that Wes Johnson and company already have recognized this, and have a plan waiting to be set in motion. My suggestions are pretty rudimentary, but they follow along on a general theme. Adjust and configure Perez’s pitches to align with his strengths. Just a rogue modification of mine for the sake of hypothetical satisfaction; steer towards an arsenal of the basis of vertical movement, (by tinkering with the cutter), reduce the amount of curves, increase the ratio of sliders:curves, and intensify the changeup as a wipeout pitch (which comes in further developing the arm side run, Ala Dallas Keuchel). This isn’t a foolproof formula for immediate results, but over a long term sample size, it's more than likely that Perez’s results would be slightly better than before. There are models of success that radically changed many players careers (i.e JA Happ etc.) that follow the same general blueprint; gear towards a players strength, and wait to experience slight success (snazzy rhyming jingle huh?
     
    And if this completely backfires, convert Perez into the bullpen, transition him into a killer LOOGY (he’s seriously a death on lefty guy, look at his numbers) and deal him during the trade deadline for some fringe B- to C prospect and look to take another bite at the apple next year.
  14. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, The Case for Cutch   
    Going into this offseason the Minnesota Twins have some very clear needs. Deciding what to do in the infield, and adding a few relief arms are chief among them. If there's a position that isn't immediately on the radar it's adding a body in the outfield. That being said, we don't know what the offseason will bring, and there's a free agent of intrigue on the market.
     
    After being the 11th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2005 Major League Baseball draft, Andrew McCutchen spent the first nine years of his big league career with the same organization. Traded to the Giants prior to 2018, he was then shipped to the New York Yankees down the stretch. This isn't the same perennial MVP candidate that Pennsylvania natives came to love from 2012-2015, but there's something left in the 32 year-old's tank.
     
    At 29 in 2016, there was a real fear that McCutchen was hitting the skids and looking at the downside of his career. A .766 OPS and awful centerfield defense brought plenty of questions heading into the 2017 season. He responded by moving to right field and putting up an .849 OPS which was bolstered by a near-career high home run total. 2018 saw Cutch post a .792 OPS that was buoyed by a strong .368 OBP and a very nice 25 game stretch for the Yankees.
    Coming off a $14.75 million salary in 2018, and a long term deal with the Pirates, McCutchen gets to test the waters for the first time in his career. His market will be interesting, but I'd think that logic suggests years may be the greater focus than a high AAV. If he could be had for something like three years and $30 million you'd certainly find teams willing to play the role of suitor.
     
    With Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and Eddie Rosario in tow for the Minnesota Twins there isn't an immediate opening. However if I'm Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, two of those players should absolutely be made available on the trading block. Max Kepler likely has the lower value at the moment given his statistical output, but I'm fine in believing he could end up being the superior player.
     
    In 2018 Eddie Rosario was deserving of being Minnesota's representative at the All Star game. He was on fire in the first half and finished with an .803 OPS. Playing in 138 games, he displayed power and production at the plate. From where I sit however, I think we're seeing the absolute peak of what Rosario can bring to the table. If there's a partner out there willing to match the Twins asset with real value, that's a guy to move with certainty.
     
    Never mind that despite the All Star caliber start, Rosario put up lower numbers in 2018 than he did the year prior. His plan at the plate has always been to work as a bad ball hitter, and that didn't change last season. He chased 43% of the pitches he swung at, and he whiffed nearly 13% of the time. On top of that, his walk rate remained at an ugly 5%. When the lumber connects things go well, but that's a trio of numbers just begging for a chance to fall off the table.
     
    Since his debut, Rosario's outfield defense has also taken a dip. As a rookie the outfield assists piled up and were a number to recognize. While his arm strength is a known commodity at this point, he sees himself tested less. Although he did perform positively in 2018, there's still more than a handful of blunders due to routes and decision making that have negative impacts on the scenarios at play.
     
    Make no mistake, there should never be a suggestion to move a 27 year-old Rosario for a 32 year-old McCutchen. Looking at how this could play out however, we aren't operating in a vacuum. If another team wants to bring Rosario on board in exchange for pitching help or something of equal value to the Twins, it's a swap that needs to be heavily considered. At 27 Rosario isn't a kid anymore, and his approach doesn't lend itself to production heights much higher than what we've seen. If the Twins can cash in before things go belly up, it'd be a move you'd need to applaud.
     
    The front office needs to inject this current roster with a bit of leadership, some significant on-base prowess, and talent that can challenge the Cleveland Indians in the very weak AL Central. There's more than one way for them to get that done this winter, and it will be interesting to see how it all takes place.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  15. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Brandon Warne for a blog entry, WARNE: How Can the Twins Find Their Brewers-like Path to October?   
    This is an excerpt of an article that appears at Zone Coverage, click here to read it in full!
     
    By the looks of it, it was going to be a battle reminiscent of David and Goliath. Well, that is, the way Vegas might have seen that battle before it happened.
     
    In one corner was the team everyone expected to be there. The Los Angeles Dodgers opened the year with a payroll of a touch over $187 million, and that was on the heels of spending $200-plus million in each of the previous five seasons.
     
    In the other corner was a team that hadn't spent that much in the previous two years combined. According to Cot's Contracts, the Milwaukee Brewers ended the 2016 and '17 seasons 30th in MLB in payroll, and opened this season with a total of just under $91 million on the books.
     
    Over the past two years, the Brewers had Opening Day payrolls of just a touch under $164 million -- combined.
     
    And the Brewers didn't just roll over, but push the NL's answer to the New York Yankees to the brink of elimination -- a decisive Game 7 at their own home park.
    Even if you didn't read the title to this piece, it isn't hard to see where we're going here.
     
    By comparison, the Minnesota Twins opened the season with a payroll of $128 million and change. They haven't had a payroll finish a season in the top half of MLB since 2012, and only once since the turn of the decade have they been among the game's top-10 spenders.
     
    That was in 2011 -- the year they lost 99 games. The 2012 team wasn't much better.
     
    People will label you a "Pohlad Pocket Protector" if you say it publicly, but ultimately it comes down to how a team spends rather than what it spends.
     
    Last season's AL Wild Card qualifier finished the year 21st in payroll. The team the year before that lost 103 games? They finished 20th.
     
    Money really won't be an issue this offseason no matter how someone slices it. The team only has about $30ish million hard committed for next year -- guaranteed money to Addison Reed, Jason Castro and Michael Pineda as well as dead money to Phil Hughes and buyouts of Ervin Santana and Logan Morrison's deals -- and the payroll estimator over on Cot's projects the Opening Day payroll at just a touch under $69 million as things currently stand.
     
    That includes the following arbitration figures, in case you want to do some back-of-the-napkin math about who you might non-tender if you were magically granted a seat at the table with Derek Falvey and Thad Levine.
     
    For comparison's sake, we'll put the estimates from MLB Trade Rumors in parentheses:

    Jake Odorizzi - $7.75 million ($9.4 million)
    Kyle Gibson - $6.75 million ($7.9 million)
    Robbie Grossman - $3.25 million ($4 million)
    Eddie Rosario - $3.25 million ($5 million)
    Miguel Sano - $2.75 million ($3.1 million)
    Max Kepler - $2.5 million ($3.2 million)
    Byron Buxton - $2.25 million ($1.2 million)
    Ehire Adrianza - $1.5 million ($1.8 million)
    Taylor Rogers - $1.5 million ($1.6 million)
    Trevor May - $1.25 million ($1.1 million)

    Add and subtract as you see fit -- for instance, Grossman could be a fairly easy non-tender with Johnny Field, Zack Granite and Jake Cave in the mix -- but this still doesn't put the Twins in any sort of payroll trouble.
     
    If the Pohlad family green-lighted an identical payroll from 2018 to 2019, the team has as much as $60 million to spend this offseason in a market that has depth and quality at a wide variety of positions.
     
    After a virtually identical team went from in the playoffs to stumbling for 95 percent of the season, how can the team get back on the path to frigid October baseball at Target Field?
     
    How about taking a page out of the Brewers' book? It's not exactly a copycat league and each team has different strengths and weaknesses, but here are a handful of ideas the Twins can embrace to push them in the right direction.
     
    1. Don't be afraid to aggressively target improvements -- even in places of strength
     
    The Twins obviously like where their future lies in the outfield with Rosario-Buxton-Kepler, and Cave's emergence last season gave them a nice contingency plan as well.
     
    The same was true for the Brewers a year ago, when they gave the most playing time in their outfield to Ryan Braun in left, Keon Broxton in center and Domingo Santana in right. Brett Phillips made a cameo and acquitted himself fairly well. Lewis Brinson struggled but was one of the top prospects in the game.
     
    Like the Twins, the Brewers were flush with talent and youth in their outfield. So what did they do?
     
    They went out and signed Lorenzo Cain and traded for Christian Yelich. They locked down Cain -- once traded with Odorizzi, by the way -- for five years and still have the rights to the likely NL MVP through the 2021 season.
    If the Brewers exercise Yelich's 2022 option -- which right now seems likely based on the year he had and that he'll be finishing just his age-30 season -- they'll have five years of him for a tidy sum of $58.25 million.
     
    That won't even buy you two seasons of Bryce Harper.
     
    That's not to say that identifying the next Cain in free agency will be easy, or that his deal is guaranteed to pay dividends over the next four years. He's signed through his age-36 season, so while the early returns are good, it isn't without risk.
     
    But who might be a player like this in free agency? Michael Brantley (32) comes to mind, though perhaps the best fit would be A.J. Pollock. He's heading into his age-31 season, and his price tag will be kept down -- at least a little -- by the fact that he's played more than 130 games just twice in his seven-year MLB career. He's a terrific player and a great defender in center, and a nice fall-back plan to Byron Buxton's development -- and beyond that, would theoretically be an incredible corner outfielder defensively.
     
    Andrew McCutchen (32) could be a good fit in that respect as well. The days of him being a superstar may be gone, but even the last two years he's been a really nice player while finally seeing his way out of Pittsburgh.
     
    This dynamic isn't strictly limited to outfielders, either.
     
    Between Jason Castro, Mitch Garver and Willians Astudillo, the Twins have a combination that would amount to one heck of a catching clone. But each has question marks.
     
    Castro's coming off meniscus surgery, and it isn't the first time he's dealt with the issue. He's a great defender but the bat leaves a bit to be desired. Garver dealt with a concussion down the stretch, and has been more of an offense-first guy -- though that's not to say he hasn't worked hard at improving his defense.
     
    And Astudillo is a total wild card in more ways than one.
     
    Despite his second iffy October in a row, expect Yasmani Grandal to be a hotly contested commodity this offseason. He's a career .240/.341/.441 hitter, bats from both sides and the defensive metrics love him for his career.
     
    He also won't be 30 for a couple more weeks, either.
     
    Don't be surprised if he commands a four or five-year deal in the neighborhood of $18-20 million per season, but that's a small price to pay for a transformational catcher behind the plate and at it. The Twins should absolutely be in the discussion as a spot for him to land this offseason.
     
    2. Understand that prospects are nice, but parades are even nicer
     
    To get Yelich, the Brewers had to go to a well-stocked cupboard and part with some nice pieces.
    Brinson was a consensus top-30 prospect prior to last season, and while his early-career MLB numbers are eerily reminiscent to Buxton's, it's way too early to give up on him. He won't turn 25 until a month into next year.
     
    Isan Diaz is a middle-infield prospect who has appeared in top-100 lists each of the last two seasons, and at 22 got a look at Triple-A last season -- albeit a bit of an ugly one (.639 OPS). Still, he was four-plus years younger than the average PCL player, so that's not too shabby.
     
    Monte Harrison was a top-75 prospect across all platforms and in his age-22 season took a bit of a step back this year in Double-A, hitting .240/.316/.399. Most concerning is that he fanned 215 times in 136 games (583 PA), but he was still nearly a 20-20 guy (19 homers, 28 steals) along the way. The physical tools are tremendous.
     
    The final piece was starter Jordan Yamamoto, a 22-year-old righty who doesn't project as a top-of-the-rotation guy despite eye-popping numbers in the minors this season. Across three levels, Yamamoto posted a 1.83 ERA, 11.1 K/9, a 0.83 WHIP and just 1.8 BB/9. He'll be 23 in May and could be pitching in the big leagues by then.
     
    None of this is to say the Twins should make Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff available or that another Yelich will be on the market this winter -- though Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto will almost certainly be dealt with two years of control left at reasonable rates -- but the overarching theme here is that creativity will rule the day.
  16. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Mr. Miami in Twins Territory?   
    Right now, the most pressing question for the Minnesota Twins revolves around who will be managing the club during the 2019 Major League Baseball season. Beyond that however, the questions revolve around how the club will allocate something like $50 million in salary dollars to round out their squad for the upcoming season. Two names highlight this free agent class, and one of them is worth taking a deeper look into. The stage is yours Mr. Machado.
     
    Entering free agency for the first time in his career, Manny Machado will have just experienced a new clubhouse for the first time as a big leaguer. Being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, he’ll have some knowledge as to what awaits him in acclimating to what could end up being his third team in the last calendar year. With just over $34 million in career earnings to date, the massive payday awaiting him is one that should destroy historical precedents.
     
    Given the level of talent Machado possesses, and combined with the expected digits on a check presented to him, it’s fair to wonder why the Twins in this scenario. There’re more than a few reasons in which a marriage of the two makes a good deal of sense.
     
    Minnesota Needs a Shortstop
     
    Jorge Polanco has dedicated himself to his craft, and the strides he’s made at short have been admirable. Having initially been nothing short of a complete abomination, he’s embarked upon the category of passable. The reality though is that his arm still plays better at second base, and he could end up being the answer to who replaces Brian Dozier is he moves over to the right side of the diamond.
     
    Yes, the best prospect in the Twins system is a shortstop, and there’s ever reason to believe that Royce Lewis is destined to be a superstar. You don’t pass up franchise altering players for the possibility of how a prospect may round out. Lewis looks like a better bet to stick at short now than he did at the time he turned pro, but there’s plenty of positional flexibility to be had. Two or three years from now is when the alignment should enter the equation.
     
    The Dollars Make Sense
     
    Joe Mauer and his $23 million average annual value are removed from the books. Even if Machado were to command something like 10 years and $300 million, Minnesota has the financial flexibility to absorb the deal. In an uncapped sport, there’s always going to be money to spend, but the reality is that payrolls are reflections of revenues driven largely by TV contracts. Yes, the Pohlad’s are rich, but so is every other owner in the sport. Sticking within logical spending parameters Minnesota can add Machado and still afford multiple other upgrades.
     
    There’s little reason to believe that the Twins wouldn’t need to slightly overpay in acquiring Machado’s services, but we aren’t talking about a bottom of the barrel organization here. Minnesota plays in a poor division and is embarking upon a window of contention. Machado didn’t have a choice in his Orioles assignment but will go to a much better place this time around. Also, should he be coming off a World Series victory, priorities regarding winning or financial capital could also be impacted.
     
    A Trial Run
     
    Last season Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were in the running for premiere starting pitcher Yu Darvish. At this point, it certainly looks like a good thing that the Twins lost the contest, but they were right near the finish line according to reports. Given that they were involved with the “must have” free agent a season ago, this green front office isn’t afraid or unaccustomed to making a big move.
     
    At 26, and looking for a mega-deal, Machado would be in an entirely different category. The practice and knowledge gained from last offseason certainly isn’t going to hurt the Twins front office however, and it could better position their tactics this time around. Looking to find players worthy of long-term commitments appears to be part of the goal as well, and this is about as long as it gets.
     
    I could make a list of positives as long as I’d like, but there’s no denying that the detractors would dwarf the total. Any time the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, or Boston Red Sox are going to be involved on a player, everyone else is put on notice with a wait a see plan of action. Fortunately for Twins, the biggest market players are relatively set at the position Machado would most like to play. That won’t stop them from flashing cash, but it could temper the level to which the pursuit is made.
     
    When the dust settles, the Minnesota Twins are always going to face long odds when it comes to landing the biggest fish. There’d be some irony in it happening following the retirement of their last big fish however. Joe Mauer provided the hometown team with an inside edge and replicating that type of a contract would be contingent upon an incredible sell. If there’s an opportunity to make it happen however, Falvey and Levine are staring it right in the face.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  17. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Jonathon Zenk for a blog entry, Updated Top Five Prospects Who Should Be Promoted   
    Two months ago, I wrote an article here about who should be promoted. Well, four of those five on the list have been promoted, as well as two of the three of my honorable mentions. Well, I am back again to do an updated list. I decided to write this one before I head off to school to work on my Master’s because I likely won’t have much time when that time comes.
     
    Honorable Mentions:
    Johan Quezada, RP, Elizabethton
    Tyler Benninghoff, SP, GCL Twins
    Anthony Escobar, SP, DSL Twins
    Todd Van Steensel, RP, Chattanooga
     
    5. Janigson Villalobos, C, GCL Twins
     
    Villalobos was traded to the Twins earlier this season from San Diego in a deal that saw Minnesota say goodbye to Phil Hughes and a draft pick. In his first three seasons, he has improved dramatically, and he has made his biggest jump this year. In 56 at-bats this season in the Gulf Coast League, he has a slash line of .339/.413/.429. Only four of his 19 hits have been for extra bases, so hopefully that comes around for him. He does have a solid eye at the plate, as he has walked seven times in his 56 at-bats and has only struck out nine times (yes, I said that in an Ed Rooney voice). Having turned 21 a few months ago, he may have figured a few things out and a trip to Elizabethton could be in order. I mean, it makes sense, too. Ben Rodriguez was promoted to Fort Myers and Ryan Jeffers to Cedar Rapids. It makes logical sense that someone like Villalobos could take Jeffers’ roster spot in Tennessee.
     
    4.. Bailey Ober, SP, Cedar Rapids
     
    Ober’s stats do not ‘wow’ you over the entire season, but he has been lights out his past three starts (and really good over his last seven). The 23-year-old has an ERA of 3.88, but while that may not seem impressive, it certainly is considering how his 2018 started. His season got off to a rocky start, allowing six runs on five hits in 2/3 of an inning in a 10-5 loss to Burlington in late April. In his first three starts, he allowed 14 runs in 9.2 innings, as well as at least four runs in five of his first six starts. But since, he has only allowed eight runs in previous seven starts combined, and four of those came in a 7-4 win over Burlington last month. Since the calendar turned to June, he is 6-1 with an ERA of 1.58, slicing his season ERA from 7.86 to 3.88. His opponents batting average also went down from .339 to .252, and his WHIP went down from 1.59 to an impressive 1.08. In his last three starts, he has turned it up a notch, allowing just one run in 21.2 innings (0.42 ERA), while striking out a whopping 34. I don’t know if he will be promoted just yet, but if he has another few starts like he has had recently, there is no choice but to promote him. Last week, former teammate Bryan Sammons was promoted from Cedar Rapids to Fort Myers. Ober could be next, maybe taking over a spot left by Tyler Wells, who I believe will move up to Double-A Chattanooga shortly.
     
    3. Robby Rinn, 1B, Cedar Rapids
     
    Rinn is an older prospect, and I normally don’t put them on this list, but he has been mashing for the Kernels. The 25-year-old was in Fort Myers for six games earlier this year, but was then returned to Cedar Rapids, where he has had 169 at-bats. In the 43 games he has played with the Kernels, he has hit .314 and has a real nice OPS of .826. Being an older prospect in a low level like Low-A, Rinn should be able to perform well, and he has done just that. Rinn, who was a 25th round pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2016, was traded by the Royals to the Twins in March. In 322 at-bats for the Idaho Falls Chukars (Rookie) last year, Rinn had a slash line of .355/.429/.511. With Rinn turning 26 in October, he needs to be challenged and he can platoon with Lewin Diaz in High-A Fort Myers. It also makes sense for the Twins, as he can be replaced on the team by 2018 eighth round pick Chris Williams, who has a slash line of .271/.380/.551 for the Elizabethton Twins.
     
    2. Tyler Wells, SP, Fort Myers
     
    All Tyler Wells has done since being drafted is dominate. Since being drafted in 15th round by the Twins in 2016, he had his worst year in Elizabethton after being drafted....and he went 5-2 with an ERA of 3.23 and a WHIP of 1.20. Following a successful stint in Cedar Rapids in 2017, Wells has had his best season in 2018. In 15 starts for the High-A Fort Myers Miracle, the Cal State Bernardino product has gone 7-4 with an ERA of 2.97 and a WHIP of an incredible 0.93. Like Rinn, he is also is a bit of an older prospect, as he turns 24 next month. He has slumped a little in July, just going 0-1 with an ERA of nearly five this month. But this comes on the heels of a great June, in which he went 4-0 with an ERA of just 1.63. Unlike many of the pitchers in the Twins organization, Wells does not have control problems, having just walked 16 in 78.2 innings so far this season. He should be promoted sometime late this year, which would create a roster spot for Ober to move to Fort Myers.
     
    1. Victor Heredia, C/1B, DSL Twins
     
    There is a very real possibility you have never heard of this slugger from Venezuela. Well, he has used the Dominican Summer League as his personal launching pad. Heredia did decent last season as a 16 and 17-year-old, slashing .257/.356/.351. But he has turned it up a level this season. In 36 games, Heredia, who just turned 18 last month, has a slash line of .366/.404/.611. Of his 48 hits, 18 have been for extra bases. Last season, he was listed as a catcher, but he has played first base this season. He has the ability to do both, much like Ben Rodrguez, who was recently promoted to Fort Myers. After having a real nice June, having a batting average of .300 and an OPS of .867, he has gone into Terminator Mode. Since the calendar turned to the seventh month of the year, Heredia has a slash line of .466/.492/.759. Heredia has 10 extra base hits in his 58 at-bats in the month as well. Even as a right-handed hitter, he has shown to hit right-handed pitching better than lefties. In 82 at-bats against righties, the Venezuela native has a slash line of .391/.426/.685. There is nothing left to prove down in the Dominican Summer League. If they want to utilize him as a catcher, he can take the spot on the GCL Twins left by Villalobos, who I think should be promotoed soon. The Ryan Jeffers/Ben Rodriguez promotions could send help lead Heredia to the United States before the season ends.
     
    As always, feel free to critique and add who you feel should be promoted by the end of the 2018 season.
  18. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Travis M for a blog entry, A Chat with Travis Blankenhorn   
    Travis Blankenhorn was drafted in the 3rd round in the 2015 MLB Draft out of Pottsville Area High School in Pennsylvania when he was 18. Blankenhorn has escalated to now be one of the top third baseman in the Twins farm system, with a career .260/.340/.463 slash line that will improve as he gets older and moves through the system. I got a chance to ask Travis a few questions via Instagram.
     
    Me: What is your favorite baseball memory with the Minnesota Twins organization so far?
     
    Travis Blankenhorn: Prob when I stole home when we were fighting for a playoff spot.
     
    Me: What are some exercise, workouts, or diets that you use to keep in shape while on the off-season?
     
    Travis Blankenhorn: I just use my trainers plan all off-season and try to stick to eat clean foods and trying to limit the junk foods.
     
    Me: What makes you strive to do your best and get better every day?
     
    Travis Blankenhorn: The end goal of trying to make it all the way to the majors.
     
    Me: If you were not playing baseball, what do you think would be your occupation?
     
    Travis Blankenhorn: I’d still be a college student somewhere.
     
    Me: Who is the most influential person in your life?
     
    Travis Blankenhorn: I would say both my parents, just how much they did for me to get to where I am today.
     
    It looks like Travis will be starting in Fort Myers this year and will hopefully tear it up on the Miracle’s and beyond! I would like to thank Travis for taking his time to get interviewed and I wish him luck on his way to the big leagues.
  19. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Nick Gordon and the Tea Leaves   
    As February comes to a close, and the calendar turns over to March, spring training is well underway for the Minnesota Twins. After an 85 win season took them to a Wild Card tilt in the Bronx, Paul Molitor's club is looking to make waves in the year ahead. Looking to make waves on his own, Nick Gordon seems to have been given a handful of opportunity from the get go this exhibition season.
     
    As of this writing, Minnesota will have played five games in Grapefruit League action, and Gordon has competed in three of them. He's started twice, manning the middle of the diamond with Jorge Polanco flanking him at shortstop. Playing second base in all of his action, Dee's brother and Tom's son has provided some interesting messages to read into.
     
    At Double-A Chattanooga in 2017, Gordon played 104 games at short, while manning second base in just 14 contests. Drafted as a shortstop out of high school, the hope was that his glove would allow him to stick at the position. Now through 415 minor league games, he's started 374 of them at short. Although the expectation was that the bat needed to develop, the early belief is that the glove and arm could stick. With defensive metrics being tracked much more lightly on the farm, we're forced to look at much more archaic forms of measurement. Spanning all of his game action, Gordon owns a .960 fielding percentage to go with 69 errors. The past two seasons, he's committed 24 and 19 errors respectively.
     
    Multiple prospect experts see Gordon needing to slide over to second at the next level. While he has the speed and range at short, the glove and arm have left him susceptible to miscues. If that ends up being the case, the likely outcome is an up-the-middle-pairing with Jorge Polanco. Unfortunately, both of those players would be somewhat miscast for an every day role at short, but Polanco did make strides a season ago. After being worth -8 DRS and posted a -10.9 UZR in 406 innings during 2016, Jorge played over 1,110 innings in 2017 and compiled a -1 DRS and -4.3 UZR.
     
    Gordon's bat has been on a nice trajectory however. After compiling a .699 and .696 OPS in his first two seasons, Gordon has surpassed the .700 OPS mark in each of the past two years. His .749 OPS in 2017 was a career best, and still reached that height despite a final 30 games (8/1-9/4) that equated to just a .593 OPS. Over the course of his first 92 games last season (4/6-7/31), Gordon posted a .287/.362/.439 slash line with 24 doubles, seven triples, and seven homers. As a 21 year-old at Double-A, those numbers are glowing.
     
    Currently in Fort Myers at the Twins spring training complex, John Bonnes spoke with Minnesota second basemen Brian Dozier. In his comments, he makes it relatively clear that he's looking forward to his impending free agency. At 31 years-old, he'll be somewhat difficult to hand a long-term, big-money deal. If Derek Falvey and Thad Levine decide to go a different direction, letting Dozier walk could open the door for Gordon to run with the role for good.
     
    There's no reason to believe Gordon's early action in spring training suggests he's got a legitimate shot to break camp with the Twins. Right now, the top prospect isn't even on the 40 man roster. What I do think we are seeing is an early-and-often approach that suggests Minnesota knows he's close. Gordon will probably spend the bulk of 2018 at Triple-A, and could see time at the big league level later in the year. The more he plays alongside potential future teammates however, the easier it is for him to integrate when called upon.
     
    Over the course of recent Twins seasons, there may be no bigger shoes to fill than Brian Dozier's. Nick Gordon isn't ever going to hit anywhere near 30+ home runs in a season, but he could be called upon to take the baton from the Twins All-Star. The more he plays in starting lineups during 2018 spring training should only fuel the fire to make that a reality on a nightly basis when the games count.
     
    It seems to me that Minnesota believes Gordon is very close, and for the player, that should be motivating enough to make 2018 a season to keep an eye on.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  20. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to John Olson for a blog entry, Breaking down Jake Odorizzi   
    A Closer Look


     
     
    At this point, with the Twins busy Presidents Day weekend now officially come to a close, it can be said that most people (and those who frequent Twins Daily, especially) are aware that the hometown club completed a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for Jake Odorizzi. The trade, first reported on Saturday night, had the Twins receiving Jake Odorizzi from the Rays in exchange for mid-level shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios. Many were waiting for the other shoe to drop, certainly the Twins were not going to get Odorizzi - straight up - for a single prospect, and certainly not if that prospect was outside of their top 10 or 15 rankings.
     
    After all, Jermaine Palacios, while a nice prospect and grades well - especially defensively - is 21 years old and playing at High A ball. Keith Law ranked Palacios at 24th best and MLB.com listed him as their 27th best prospect, and well behind other more highly touted shortstops in the system - namely, Royce Lewis, Nick Gordon and Wander Javier.
     
    So how is it that the Twins achieved this kind of trade? What does that say about Odorizzi?
     
    The answer is probably much more complicated, Perhaps the Rays were, indeed, very smitten with Palacios. His tools do grade out to stick at shortstop, albeit his upside looks to be more of a utility man than a regular. It seems unlikely the Twins were bidding against themselves, to be able to get a straight 1 for 1 on Odorizzi, and he has been rumored to several other teams this offseason including the Angels, Nationals, Yankees and Orioles. How is it that among several teams vying for a competent major league pitcher, the Rays weren't able to add more than a single mid-level prospect in return?
     
    Lets not forget, either, the Rays top prospect in their system - Willy Adames - is a shortstop and a potential star at the MLB level. Palacios figures to be, at minimum, blocked at the MLB level for several years by Adames who has already progressed to Double-A and was a Southern League All-Star.
     
    The Rays not only traded Odorizzi for a single prospect, but the prospect they received is likely system depth? So perhaps the better question is, what does the trade say about the other clubs perceived value of Jake Odorizzi?
     
    Who is Jake Odorizzi?
     
    Depending on who you ask and under what context, you'll get a different answer to this question. Around Twins social media, I've seen such differing opinions - from "Should he be the Opening Day starter? He may be our best pitcher" to "He's, at best, a number 4 starter". I would contend that he is likely the middle ground between these two, very different statements.
     
    As background, Odorizzi was a first round draft pick (2008 32nd Overall, Brewers), reaching Class A in the Brewers system. He was traded in the offseason following the 2009 season to the Kansas City Royals where he, by the 2011 season, was ranked as the Brewers number 1 prospect. While he wasn't the primary piece in the trade that sent him from Kansas City to Tampa Bay (Wil Myers headlined that blockbuster trade, sending James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City in exchange for Myers, Odorizzi, and two others.) he was a key element, ranking as the Royals 4th best prospect in their system at the time.
     
    After receiving a cup of coffee in the majors in both 2012 and 2013, accruing only 37 innings pitched through those two seasons, he has 4 full seasons in the majors.
     
    By standard metrics he's been a valuable mid-rotation arm - putting up ERA's of 4.13, 3.35 and 3.69 in 2014-'16, with park adjusted xFIP of 3.90, 3.96 and 4.44, respectively. His K/9 average during the first three seasons was a respectable 8.42, while maintaining an average HR/FB rate of 9.9%, or just slightly below the MLB average.
     
     
    Wait. What about 2017?
     
    Notice that I omitted 2017 from his stat lines? I thought you might. Odorizzi had, by most accounts, an abysmal 2017 season. Limited to 143.1 innings in 2017 after two trips to the Disabled List (hamstring, back injury), he saw regression in multiple areas. His ERA, at 4.14, the worst mark he's had since his rookie season - in conjunction with a horrid 5.43 FIP.
     
    His 3.83 BB/9 mark fell well below league average and his HR/FB was an awful (almost impressively awful if I hadn't seen Kyle Gibsons 18%HR/FB mark) of 15% - all while seeing his GB% fall to 30.6%.
     
    Unsurprisingly, Odorizzi gave up 30 home runs in 2017 and the long ball indeed was a crux, paired with a 7.52 ERA during the third trip though the order.
     
    Fatigue, injury, and you can't even chalk it (all) up to bad luck, with a very low .227 BABIP.
     
     
    So, what's the forecast for 2018?
     
    Travis Sawchik of Fangraphs has a very compelling article that suggests Odorizzi may be an adjustment away from rectifying some of his issues from last season. His elevated four-seam fastball approach, which reached was tied for the highest 4S fastball height in the major leagues. Sawchik suggest that pairing the increased height with with increased height of his split-change, he may be losing "tunneling", or the vertical separation between the four-seamer and his split-change up, which generally produced his highest whiff rate (22%) in his arsenal of pitches.
     
    Twins pitching coach, the newly hired Garvin Alston, has stressed that locating the fastball with his staff is a top priority and it would seem that as Odorizzi's fastball goes, so goes the season for Odorizzi.
     
    As Brooks Baseball's player card for Odorizzi reads "(Odorizzi's) four-seam fastball generates an extremely high number of swings and misses compared to other pitchers fourseamers".
     
    In a nutshell, if he can effectively locate his fastball and mix in his split-change up with better tunneling, his chances of returning to a pre-2017 Jake Odorizzi are fairly good.
     
     
    How Good Is He?
     
    Twins Pitching Analyst, Josh Kalk, hired this past December and formerly a Senior Analyst for the Tampa Bay Rays likely has as much information on Odorizzi as anyone, and it would follow that recommendations he may have had on Odorizzi held some weight in regards to the Twins trading for him. That said, what can we expect from him in the upcoming 2018 season?
     
    Odorizzi, at 4 full years in the league, has shown the consistency (apart from 2017, which may or may not be an anomaly) of a number 3 or 4 starter, depending on the rotation he's placed in.
     
    Baseball Reference has similar pitchers as Danny Salazar and Jeremy Hellickson - and if he pitches like pre-2017 Odorizzi is a fair comparision, though I would argue he would be a perfect bridge between those two pitchers. He won't miss as many bats as Salazar and will miss more bats than Hellickson, when on.
     
    Salazar, when healthy (and maybe not pitching in the same rotation as Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco), is likely a number 2/3 (his peripherals are great, with 12.8 K/9 and a FIP of 3.48 - but he walks too many hitters) and Hellickson is likely a number 5 (if you wanted to look at worst case scenario of progression for Odorizzi, I would look at the staggering decline of Hellickson post-2016.)
     
    Conclusion
     
    So, no. I don't believe Odorizzi is the Twins best pitcher. Jose Berrios will likely hold that mantle this season, barring a trade for an established ace or a surprise signing of Jake Arrieta. Even Santana, if healthy and capable or repeating (or coming close to repeating) his 2017 season would provide superior results.
     
    That said, the Odorizzi trade gave the Twins something they need - an arm capable of holding down a middle of the rotation spot, keep them in games and get some K's when needed. He slots nicely in between Berrios, Santana when he returns, with Gibson occupying the 4 spot.
     
    Temper your expectations, Twins fans. We didn't sneak one by the Rays and snag a front of the rotation starter, but we did get a young, controllable, arbitration eligible middle of the rotation-type arm - for essentially a High A projected utility infielder. That's pretty impressive.
     
     
     
    Twitter: @four_six_three
  21. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Andrew Thares for a blog entry, A Potential Upgrade for Kennys Vargas   
    The first few seasons of Kennys Vargas’ career have been a bit of a disappointment for the Twins. Vargas came up in 2014 as a player with a lot of potential, and was considered by many to be the inevitable replacement for Joe Mauer at first base.
     
    Despite a few bright moments with the bat, Vargas hasn’t quite lived up to his expectations. Over his 859 career plate appearances, Vargas has a slash line of .253/.314/.444, with 35 home runs and an even 100 wRC+. While these numbers aren’t terrible, they are no where near what you would hope for from a first baseman.
     
    The Twins do still have 4 years of team control of Vargas, but now might be the time for the Twins to look to move on from him. A few teams that I could see drawing interest in Vargas would be the Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals.
     
    Now where would the Twins go to get this potential upgrade for Kennys Vargas. For that, we can look at our neighbors to the East, in the Milwaukee Brewers’ right-handed hitting first basemen Jesus Aguilar.
     
    After struggling in very limited playing time with Cleveland, Aguilar was claimed off waivers by Milwaukee prior to the 2017 season. In his first season with the Brewers, Aguilar had some success, posting a .265/.331/.505 slash line and a wRC+ of 112. He did this in limited playing time, seeing just 311 plate appearances, despite appearing in 133 games. This was mostly due to the fact that he spent the season in a platoon with Eric Thames.
     
    There are many similarities between Kennys Vargas and Jesus Aguilar. Both players are big, power-hitting first basemen, who have never been given an opportunity to be an everyday player at the Major League level, but have had success at it in the minors. Both players are nearly identical in age (Aguilar is one month older than Vargas), though, Aguilar is controllable for and additional season. They are also very similar defensively, with Vargas having a DRS (defensive runs saved above average) of 1 over 756 career innings at 1st, while Aguilar has a DRS of 0 over 629 career innings at first.
     
    Despite all these similarities, there is one key difference between the two, and that is their ability to hit left-handed pitching. Last year, Vargas struggled mightily against lefties, positing an abysmal 56 wRC+ against them, while Aguilar posted a very strong 127 wRC+ against lefties. Aguilar's ability to hit lefties would bring a big upgrade to the Twins, who collectively hit for a 96 wRC+ versus lefties in 2017, compared to a 104 wRC+ against right handed pitching. This could also play out big in the long term if they are unable to resign Brian Dozier after 2018, as he provides much of the Twins production against left-handed pitching.
     
    Jesus Aguilar can hold his own against right-handed pitching as well. Last season, Aguilar gathered a .806 OPS, and a wRC+ of 104 against his weaker side. This bodes well for his chances to become an everyday threat in the Twins lineup.
     
    The Statcast metrics appear to favor Aguilar over Vargas as well. In 2017, Aguilar’s xwOBA was a respectable .330, while Varges’ was a mere .303. A lot of this can be attributed to Aguilar’s 89.2 MPH average exit velocity, compared to Varges’ 86.3 MPH average exit velocity.
     
    Here is are a couple charts that compare the quality of contact that Jesus Aguilar and Kennys Varges made in 2017.
     


     


     
    For a little reference on how to read these charts, they show the six different qualities of contact defined by Statcast. Each dot measures the launch angle and exit velocity of a batted ball event by the hitter. The top three categories (Barrels, Solid Contact and Flares & Burners) usually result in hits, while the bottom three categories (Topped, Hit Under and Weak Contact) usually result in outs.
     
    From these charts we can see that Jesus Aguilar does a better job of hitting for quality contact than does Kennys Vargas. On 44% of his batted balls, Aguilar made contact in one of the top three batted ball categories, while Vargas only managed to do this on just 36% of his batted balls. We can also see that Vargas has real trouble with hitting too many grounders, as he hit toppers on roughly 39% of his batted balls.
     
    So, why might the Brewers be willing to trade Jesus Aguilar? Well, last season, to make room for Aguilar at first, the Brewers would often move Thames to one of the corner outfield positions. However, with the Brewers’ recent additions of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, it is hard to imagine them employing that same strategy again this year, with what will be a very crowed outfield. With the Brewers not having the luxury of the DH, they might look to move Aguilar as there is simply no room for him. This means it would be the perfect opportunity for the Twins to swoop in and potentially buy low.
     
    Pulling off this move to acquire Jesus Aguilar, and subsequently trading Kennys Vargas, could be a big move that will not only add to the Twins bench this season, but could provide a better option long term at first, if Joe Mauer walks after 2018.
     
    So, what do you think? Is making a move for Jesus Aguilar something that the Twins should pursue, or would they be better off staying put with the way things are, and seeing if Kennys Vargas can develop into the player many hoped he would become?
  22. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to John Olson for a blog entry, State of the Twins - Pitching Rotation edition   
    State of the Twins - Starting Rotation


     
     
    Baseball is back. Pitchers and catchers have reported to the Twins Spring Training site in Fort Myers, along with a sprinkling of position players - including Joe Mauer, who we can only suspect is in "the best shape of his life" at this point in his career. All jokes aside, the 2018 season is just around the corner and it doesn't come without some question marks, most notably, the state of the starting rotation.
     
    If you're a regular to Twins Daily, or follow the Twins social media outlets, Ervin Santana's injured finger will put him on the shelf for 10-12 weeks and has been widely reported. Santana, 2017 Twins Opening Day starter and All Star, will likely miss the entire opening month of the 2018 season while recovering from this injury. By my estimation, that would put breakout star from the 2017 season Jose Berrios in line for the Opening Day start and the defacto number one starting pitcher to start the year.
     
    With few "locks" in the rotation, Santana, Berrios and Kyle Gibson likely being the only three starters guaranteed a starting spot, that leaves a quandary for the remaining two starting jobs - and in all reality, with Santana's injury, 3 starting jobs.
     
    The Twins entered the post season with the goal of addressing a few areas, starting pitching and the bullpen being of primary concern. While they addressed the bullpen - Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed and Zack Duke being added via free agency this winter, the only starting pitcher add was Michael Pineda. While I love the addition of Pineda - I believe there could be a huge potential for value there, post-Tommy John for the former Yankee/Mariner - he is not projected to be available until late summer, perhaps even September at the earliest. So, for all intents and purposes, his 2 year deal is focused on potential value in the 2019 season and perhaps the 2018 playoffs.
     
    The Twins primary target in this offseason free agent market, Yu Darvish, signed a 6 year/ $126 Million dollar deal with the Chicago Cubs. Reportedly the Twins were not willing to extend an offer past 5 years, and while it hasn't been confirmed (to my knowledge) I assume the AAV offered by the Twins was comparable to what he received from the Cubs. I won't beat a dead horse, at this point Darvish is off the table, and while I personally felt the Twins should have done everything feasible to sign Darvish (including a 6th year, opt out clause, no trade/limited no trade, incentives, etc.) I, obviously, am not privy to the details of what the Twins offered. Read: Twins may have done all of that, Darvish may have just preferred Chicago over everyone else.
     
    So, where does that leave us? Well, there was always an opportunity for in-house competition for the 5th starting pitching spot, we'll start there. Phil Hughes, off of his second rib surgery, will be in the mix, along with a post-Tommy John Trevor May. Among those who had a cup of coffee in the majors last year, Aaron Slegers and probably to a lesser extent Felix Jorge, and exciting young pitchers Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero and Zach Littell. Adalbuerto Mejia, who had a fairly up and down 2017, also projects to be competing for a spot - he would be the lone left hander in the rotation, with his experience in 2017 and flashes of ability, I expect him to be among the favorites.
     
    The Twins have expressed interest in a few of the remaining free agent pitchers left on the market, including Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb - and also have been loosely connected to Jake Arrieta, though Lavelle E. Neil reported the chances of signing Arrieta were "remote". I would dare say by remote, he means 'snowballs chance in Hades'. I've been wrong before, though. They have also been reportedly interested in the next tier of free agent pitchers - Jaime Garcia, Jason Hammel, Jason Vargas and (I hope its a 'take a flier' kind of interest...) Chris Tillman.
     
    Any of those starting pitchers would improve the depth of the starting rotation, only Arrieta would truly provide anything more than a "number 3" type pitcher. Even so, Arrieta at this point in his career, mileage on his arm and truly Phil Hughesian decrease in velocity from 2016 to 2017 (both had a decrease in FB velocity of 2 MPH) he slots better as a number 2 starter. Optimally, signing both Lynn and Cobb to free agent contracts would solidify a Twins rotation. Arrieta would likely require as much, or more, money to sign than Lynn and Cobb combined - he reportedly turned down a Cubs offer that matched or close to matching the $126 Million they gave Darvish, also he is represented by Scott Boras. Signing any of the Garcia-Hammel-Vargas tier would be a solid move for depth in the back end of the rotation, all are very capable of being serviceable 4/5's.
     
    Aside from free agency, the Twins offered a formal trade package to the Tampa Bay Rays for Chris Archer. Its hard to say how serious the offer was, or what was included - much speculation had Max Kepler as a primary piece - but Archer is probably the most sought after trade target in baseball. I would suspect any offer the Twins made that didn't include Royce Lewis, Byron Buxton or Jose Berrios was probably a non-starter for the Rays - that said, including any of those names for the Twins would be... well it would be very, very stupid. Jake Odorizzi is also on the Twins radar. I, personally am not excited to part with any highly regarded prospect for Odorizzi, and certainly not for Max Kepler.
     
    Potential targets for the Twins could include pitchers Colin McHugh (Astros), Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays), Julio Teheran (Braves), Sean Manaea (A's), among several others. Stroman is more or less in the same boat as Archer, it would take a very solid offer (and a crowbar) to pry him from the Blue Jays. McHugh, in all fairness this pick was inspired by conversation had by Brandon Warne and Ryan Turnquist on their 'Locked on Twins' podcast, may be the odd man out of the rotation/swing-man situation in Houston - he might be a great under the radar pickup in trade. Fangraphs projections actually have him putting up better ERA/FIP and K/9 numbers in 2018 than all current projected Twins starters. Julio Teheran is another interesting target, and I plan on elaborating more on both him and McHugh in a later article.
     
    Thank you to all who made it to the end, I appreciate every reader. My intention here on Twins Daily is to upload at least one blog article a week on various topics Twins related, and if you have any suggestions, thoughts or comments please feel free to share them! I can also be found on Twitter @four_six_three if you enjoy more Twins related topics!
     
     
    Twitter @four_six_three
  23. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Andrew Thares for a blog entry, Why a Julio Teheran Trade Makes Sense for the Twins   
    It is no question that the Twins top priority this offseason remains on signing free agent Yu Darvish. However, as the season nears, they may need to shift their focus towards an alternative option to fill an open spot in their rotation, especially now that Ervin Santana is expected to miss the first month of the season after having surgery on the middle finger on his right hand.
     
    There is a lot of speculation that the Twins will sign one of the other remaining free agent starters if they fail to land Darvish. While many of the available starters are quality pitchers, there isn’t a lot of long term upside to any of them, as they are all on the wrong side of 30.
     
    Another option that the Twins have to bolster their rotation would be through a trade. One pitcher many people have speculated about this offseason is Chris Archer. While Archer would be a great addition for the Twins, he will cost them a fortune in terms of prospects. However, there are other pitchers out there on the trade market that the Twins could go after, and one very intriguing pitcher that nobody has been talking about this winter is Atlanta Braves starter Julio Teheran.
     
    Teheran has spent parts of seven seasons pitching for the Braves, but despite that, he just turned 27 in January. On his contract, Teheran still has 2 years and $19M guaranteed, with a third-year team option for $12M. This means that if the Twins trade for Teheran, they will control him during his prime for a lot less money than it would take to sign either Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn.
     
    Even though Teheran hasn’t been seriously linked to any trade discussions this offseason, there was a lot of talk before the trade deadline last July about the Braves interest in trading him. Moving Teheran would make a lot of sense for Atlanta, as they are a team that is still a year or two away from contention and could add to their already deep farm system.
     
    For the Twins, Julio Teheran would be an ideal candidate to slide into their rotation. Teheran has shown that he is durable, as he has pitched at least 185 innings in every season since he became a full-time starter in 2013. He has done this all to the tune of a career 3.59 ERA.
     
    One down side to Teheran is he is coming off a bad 2017, where he posted a career worst 4.49 ERA, and a disheartening 4.96 xFIP. The biggest reason for this drop in performance was his increased walk rate, which jumped up to 3.44 BB/9. From the chart below, you can see that Teheran’s control seems to be the driving factor in his production.
     
     


     
    As you can see, if Teheran can control his walk rate he has the ability to be a front of the rotation starter for the Twins. One promising note is, despite the high walk rate, Teheran’s strike percentage didn’t seem to drop off all that much in 2017, as it did in 2015. This is a good sign that perhaps Teheran hasn’t suddenly lost his command, and that he could easily bounce back to form in 2018.
     
    When diving into Teheran’s Statcast numbers, there is some more reason to be optimistic that he will bounce back in 2018. Teheran did a good job last season at not allowing hard contact, by posting an average exit velocity against of 86.3 MPH. This ranked just ahead of pitchers like Chris Sale, Zack Greinke and Carlos Martinez who were all at 86.4 MPH.
     
    In 2017, Teheran fell victim to pitching in front of the terrible Atlanta Braves defense. Last season, the Braves ranked 27th in Major League Baseball with -43 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). A move to the Twins, who had +17 DRS last year, would be a big upgrade for Teheran.
     
    A big portion of that upgrade would be in the outfield, where the Braves finished 2017 with -7 Outs Above Average (OAA), while the Twins finished with +31 OAA. This plays right into Teheran’s hands, as he had the 14th highest flyball rate among qualified starters last season.
     
    This poor defense by the Braves goes a long way in explaining why Julio Teheran allowed a 0.334 wOBA last season (0.321 was MLB average), despite his xwOBA (Expected Weighted On-Base Average) of 0.318.
     
    With Teheran coming off of a down season, the Twins will have an opportunity to buy low on a pitcher that has the upside to become the Twins #2 starter, just as he is entering his prime. If he is not able to return to his pre-2017 form, and continues his struggles with his command, Teheran will most likely slot somewhere in the middle or back of the Twins’ rotation.
     
    In either scenario, Teheran would bring the Twins an element of much needed depth to the starting rotation, and could potentially prevent the front office from being forced into calling up one of the prospects before they feel that they are ready.
  24. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, The Show 18 Goes All Out   
    With Aaron Judge following up his incredible rookie season by landing the cover of MLB The Show 18, the most limited edition has been dubbed "All Rise." If there's anything to glen from the gameplay release trailer that dropped today, it's that the team at Sony San Diego is going all out.
     
    While much of the gameplay is hard to deduce from the trailer, it looks as crisp as we've become accustomed to. The more necessary tweaks include tagging animations, hitting analysis, and overall refinements to the experience. That being said, there was more than a few big bits of excitement from the trailer debut, and most of them center around the Diamond Dynasty game mode.
     
    After having Ken Griffey Jr. act as the cover boy a season ago, and make his debut on the virtual diamond, a handful of former greats enter the fold for the year ahead. First and foremost, Babe Ruth becomes the headliner. With an epic teaser sequence including his called shot, Ruth being prominently featured in a game highlighting Judge made all too much sense. The Hall of Famer will be joined by the likes of Doc Ellis, Don Sutton, Pee Wee Reese, Lee Smith, Troy Percival, and Benito Santiago. With this just being the first bit of information put forth for the new iteration, we could have a few more legends yet to be unveiled.
     
    On top of the additions to the card collecting game mode, the trailer also showed off the Judge's Chambers in Yankee Stadium. After including stadium specific areas such as King's Court in Seattle and The 7 Line in New York a season ago, it's nice to see the presentation get expanded upon. There was also a tease of an airplane scene that would likely coincide with the popular Road to the Show mode. After being turned into somewhat of an RPG style narrative a season ago, expanding on the created player journey to the big leagues is a nice touch.
     
    The official release date of MLB The Show 18 remains March 27, although a preorder will get you the game a few days earlier. Expect plenty of live streams and content drops in the coming weeks to further highlight what's new in the upcoming version.
     
    Also here at Off The Baggy, I intend to do a regular hit on who to monitor for investment purposes in The Show 18 this season. Combining the allure of virtual baseball along with real life statistics in order to profit in the game is something that was great fun a year ago. Not looking to be a content creator, a regular blog post detailing where to keep your eye both on the diamond and in the game seems like a great crossover. See you all in The Show.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  25. Like
    Cory Engelhardt reacted to Jamie Cameron for a blog entry, Adalberto Mejia: High Floor or More?   
    Few moments in life result in genuine anticipation. For me, they are predictable. My wedding day, the birth of my daughter, and waiting for a starting pitcher to sign this off-season. In an effort to fill this continually vacuous, and harrowingly stagnant alternate reality in which starting pitchers are no longer required to complete baseball games, I’m taking a stand. I’m going to forget about all the upside that could improve the Twins rotation, and focus on what we already have. Namely, Adalberto Mejia.
     
    Mejia ‘hasn’t gotten a ton of ink’ at Twins Daily this off-season. Those are Tom Froemming’s words, I can’t pull that sentence off. The point remains, Mejia can be an afterthought in a Twins rotation resplendent with uncertain back end options. He’s most likely the leading candidate for the fifth start role in 2018, but should he be?
     
    The Twins acquired Mejia in a sell high trade for Eduardo Nunez, traded on the back of an outstanding(ly lucky) first half for Minnesota in 2016. Mejia was one of the Giants’ better thought of prospects (No 10 according to Baseball Prospectus) in a weaker system. At the time he was thought of more as high floor than high ceiling. After an up and down 2017 season, what does Mejia offer the Twins? And what does he need to do to take a step forward and cement his position as a more consistent back of the rotation starter?
     
    Let’s start with what Mejia has. He’s a 6’3 lefty, who checks in at 195 lbs. according to Fangraphs (lies!). He relies in a pretty typical four pitch mix. Mejia throws a four seam fastball (avg. 93mph), a slider (avg. 84 mph), a changeup (avg. 84 mpg), and a sinker (avg. 92 mph). All four of his pitches have slightly above average velocity, but none of them are going to blow you away.
     
    Mejia’s mechanics went through some adjustments over the course of the 2017 season. In April (a month in which Mejia struggled significantly) his release point was significantly lower on all four of his pitches than it was by the season’s end. His average fastball, started the season with a release point of 6ft and finished with a release point of 6.31 ft. a significant difference. This ‘straightening up’ allowed Mejia to generate a little more vertical movement on all of his off-speed pitches as the season progressed. The graphs below track Mejia's vertical release point and vertical movement for his four primary pitches throughout the 2017 season.
     
     




     
    In spite of this increase in movement, Mejia struggled to generate a consistently strong secondary pitch throughout the 2017 season. Mejia left a few of his sliders over the plate, which, with minimal break on the pitch led to said few being crushed for home runs. His lack of a strong secondary pitch however, most impacted his fastball, allowing hitters to wait on it and tee off on the pitch to the tune of a .921 OPS. Mejia did split his breaking pitch mix between his slider and a curveball (which he threw around 10% of the time). Mejia’s curveball showed promise, registering at season’s end as his only plus pitch.
     
    If there is one factor in determining whether Mejia can solidify himself as a solid back end option for the Twins, it is his fastball control. Overall, Mejia had an ugly walk rate of 4.04 BB/9 in 2017. Mejia was only able to generate 34% ground balls on his fastball. Looking at his heat map for first pitch fastballs, it’s easy to see why. The heat map below shows the location of Mejia’s fastball, when it was the first pitch he threw to right handed hitters. It’s notable that Mejia 1) struggles to find the zone and establish his fastball against RHH and 2) Mejia leaves a considerable number of the fastballs which do find the strike zone over the middle of the plate.
     


     
    One of the limitations of Mejia’s fastball in 2018 is how eminently hittable it is. This is noticeable in a comparison between Mejia’s fastball and that of Jose Berrios. O-Contact% measures the amount of contact hitters make with a particular pitch when it is thrown outside the strike zone. In 2017 opposing hitters made contact with around 60% of Berrios’ fastballs located outside the strike zone. For Mejia the figure was just under 80%. Over the course of the season, this equates to around 150 extra fastballs which weren’t in the strike zone getting contacted when comparing Berrios and Mejia. When your fastball isn’t a plus pitch, that’s a big deal. Mejia doesn’t have the movement or velocity to blow people away or create much deception in his pitches. In order to be successful, he needs to develop his ability to control his fastball and command it using the strike zone more deliberately.
     
    Lastly, it’s interesting to note exactly when Mejia got himself into his biggest messes on the mound. You might think that a pitcher struggling with control would walk more hitters with men on base, these situations were actually where Mejia clamped down. His greatest struggles came in low leverage situations in which he had a BB/9 of 5.34, as opposed to 1.29 in high leverage situations. To put this another way, Mejia had a BB/9 of 5.73 when the bases where empty, as opposed to just 2.67 with men on base.
     
    Mejia remains an interesting option for the Twins going into the 2018 season. He will remain a bargain, given the price Minnesota paid for him. His 2018 impact is really dependent on two key factors moving forwards; getting, and staying ahead of hitters, and improving one of his breaking pitches to offset his fastball more effectively. If Mejia can take steps forward in these areas, the Twins should have a solid number five. Who do you think is the favorite for the Twins fifth starting pitching roster spot ahead of spring training?
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